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Old 05-14-2020, 02:58 PM
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Should Taiwan be allowed back as an observer in the WHA this year?


Fairly simple and straight forward question. Apologies if it's already been debated. I haven't been keeping up with this board for a while, and didn't see one. Anyway, several countries have put forward the contention that Taiwan should be allowed back in as an observer to the World Health Assembly, and perhaps back in with full observer status for the WHO as well going forward. Of course, China has vigorously opposed this. Was wondering what 'dopers think of this so thought it might be a fairly light weight discussion if anyone is interested.
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Old 05-14-2020, 07:12 PM
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Our son worked in Taiwan for about three years, explaining why my wife and I spent about two months there over the past five years.

We love Taiwan. So we support Taiwanese peacefully fulfilling their national aspirations. You describe a good small step in that direction.

It has to be done with great care because the People's Republic of China is unjustifiably irredentist.

As for the health and safety advantages of Taiwan participating in international health and safety organizations, they are real.
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Old 05-14-2020, 07:16 PM
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Why shouldn't a free and independent country be allowed in?

Or... are you seriously contending that because Australia is a former British territory, that the USA somehow has legitimate claim over it?

That's the same insane troll logic the CCP uses to claim Taiwan.
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Old 05-14-2020, 07:40 PM
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Why shouldn't a free and independent country be allowed in?
The official position of both China and Taiwan is that Taiwan is not a free and independent country. Both the government in Beijing and the government in Taipei uphold the official position that there is only one country and both governments officially claim to be the government that represents that one country.

The government in Beijing has no interest in withdrawing its claim of ownership over Taiwan. However there has been some discussion in Taipei about withdrawing its claims over the mainland and declaring Taiwan to be a separate and independent country. But the government in Beijing has stated that if there is any official movement to do this, it will regard it as a hostile move and will respond with military force against Taiwan.
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Old 05-14-2020, 07:41 PM
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That's the same insane troll logic the CCP uses to claim Taiwan.
It's also the same insane troll logic the ROC uses to claim mainland China.
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Old 05-14-2020, 07:47 PM
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Getting back to the OP's question, I would say that we need to look at the balance. Would pushing for Taiwan to get back its observer status be contributing something of value that outweighs whatever difficulties China would cause as a result? Is this an issue where the real world problems are worth the symbolic gesture?
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Old 05-14-2020, 08:13 PM
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I don’t think it is a symbolic gesture. Taiwan has been one of the countries with success in containing COVID. Having them at the meetings and able to bring their insights could be valuable. That kind of information exchange isn’t just political theatre.

ETA: Glad to see XT back!
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Old 05-14-2020, 08:52 PM
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It's also the same insane troll logic the ROC uses to claim mainland China.
This died with CCK.

The only reason it isn't formally and consistently renounced is the People's Republic's insistence they will invade if the fig-leaf status quo is changed. Taiwan's first democratic leader rejected it as soon as he left office.
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Old 05-14-2020, 11:24 PM
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PhillyGuy, it didn't die with "Butt head" as the son of "Peanut Head" aka Cash My Check aka Chiang Kai-shek was affectionately called. But Butt Head's death did start the trend toward giving up the fantasy that the Republic of China based in Taiwan has claim to "Greater China" including Outer Mongolia, parts of India, etc. This still has not been formally renounced. So, to be fair, Taiwan could formally renounce claims to greater china areas such as the independant country and UN member Outer China without the threat of Mainland military response but choose not to.

And, as much as I like Lee Teng-hui, it's kinda BS to reject something after leaving office. BTW, he was great. His first press conference as the Taiwanese leader elect was in Taiwanese. His mandarin is horribly accented with him being Taiwanese/Japanese at a native level, English at PhD US levels and Mandarin as his fourth language as I would rank the intelligibility.

Sure, it is don't ask don't tell these days. But Taiwan or more specifically the KMT need to own up that "you pick Taiwan or China to the UN" throw down was a stupid move that backfired.
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Old 05-15-2020, 02:11 AM
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the fantasy that the Republic of China based in Taiwan has claim to "Greater China" including Outer Mongolia, parts of India, etc. This still has not been formally renounced. So, to be fair, Taiwan could formally renounce claims to greater china areas such as the independant country and UN member Outer China without the threat of Mainland military response but choose not to.
Taiwan may soon consider legislation that would formally renounce all Taiwanese claim to mainland China, asserting only jurisdiction over Taiwan proper and its outlying islands (sorry, link is not in English.)
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Old 05-15-2020, 05:42 AM
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There are two levels of "should" here.

Clearly from a principled POV, if the Taiwanese want to be independent, and they indeed rescind any claim over the mainland, then of course they should be acknowledged as a separate country and given a seat on the WHA, WHO, UN, whatever.

From a practical POV though, no-one is in a hurry to piss off China, because of its economic importance and the possibility of conflict. Personally I don't see a deliberate conflict as a possible scenario at all. But, OTOH, an "accidental" conflict where China flexes its muscles and then some misunderstanding or error leads to escalation...unlikely, but possible.

I will say this: the relationship between much of the West and China is at a low point right now; thanks to Trump and the trade war, and then of course coronavirus.
So, speaking strategically, if you're going to piss off China, do it now. There's less to lose.
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Old 05-15-2020, 06:37 AM
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Taiwan may soon consider legislation that would formally renounce all Taiwanese claim to mainland China, asserting only jurisdiction over Taiwan proper and its outlying islands (sorry, link is not in English.)
You beat me to the punch, but quoted for emphasis.

Besides, even if they weren't in the process of rejecting it, the One China policy from Taiwan's side only says that Taiwan owns the mainland. That's absurd in terms of practical reality, but not absurd so far as "historical claims" go - the KMT did at one point rule mainland China. The opposite is not true, however: the CCP has never controlled Taiwan, and therefore has zero claim to it whatsoever.

As for the CCP side of the equation, well, I said it before: the USA owns Australia because Britain. The two claims just aren't equivalent. And Taiwan claiming historical control over the mainland doesn't justify the CCP claiming Taiwan.

And all this is before you consider that Taiwan is likely to aide the WHO while the CCP has been actively hampering it. That alone is grounds to give the CCP a good ole' slap in the face.
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Old 05-15-2020, 09:01 AM
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Getting back to the OP's question, I would say that we need to look at the balance. Would pushing for Taiwan to get back its observer status be contributing something of value that outweighs whatever difficulties China would cause as a result? Is this an issue where the real world problems are worth the symbolic gesture?
There seems to be a lot getting mixed in with the answers here. Questions about Taiwan independence and claims that both countries are the one true China. Those are certainly valid questions, and probably warrant a thread of their own, but this OP is simply about Taiwan being allowed BACK in the WHA this year, and perhaps in the wider delegation going forward, as an observer. This isn't something new...Taiwan had this status for years, and only lost it (at the behest of mainland China and the CCP) in, IIRC, 2017. So, this would merely be going back to how things were. Originally, Taiwan was given this status after an outbreak of (and this is from memory) either SARS or swine flu that the CCP flubbed but Taiwan, again, did a good job.

This isn't a symbolic gesture. In this particular crisis key pieces of information weren't given out by the WHO early on that Taiwan attempted to disseminate, at a time when the CCP was in cover up mode. Had Taiwan been an observer, presumably the information they tried to convey wouldn't have been ignored by the WHO. I'm not sure if it would have mattered, for various reasons, but it might have.

Additionally, there is no real reason except the CCPs bullying, why Taiwan shouldn't be an observer. Now, if we were talking full member, then THAT is a huge can of worms, and it does bring in all of this stuff about independence and who controls what, but not if they merely go back to observer status. Essentially, the CCP is the ones who have waged a campaign of threats and pressure to keep Taiwan off of this thing. So, I'm asking you 'dopers what you think about that. If you think that the world should cater to China on this, then that's fine. It's an answer. If you think that Taiwan should be allowed back in as an observer, that's fine too. Just curious where people stand on this.
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Old 05-15-2020, 09:12 AM
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I donít think it is a symbolic gesture. Taiwan has been one of the countries with success in containing COVID. Having them at the meetings and able to bring their insights could be valuable. That kind of information exchange isnít just political theatre.

ETA: Glad to see XT back!
Thanks, I appreciate that.

And I agree with you...it's not symbolic. In theory, the CCP SHOULD be taking information from Taiwan (if the reality of Beijing controlling Taiwan like they do Macao and Hong Kong under the one party, two systems plan that only seems to be working in Macao these days) and then disseminating it to the WHO as they do all their other 'provinces'. But this is a fantasy, and it not only didn't happen but the CCP actively blocked the WHO from taking that information and using it. Probably because it completely contradicted their own narrative. Regardless, this isn't just some symbolic fight with no real meat. Taiwan not only had vital information early on, but they have been the most successful nation out there to deal with this crisis, and this despite the fact that there was a lot of mainland/Taiwan interaction, especially in the November/December/January when this thing started and ramped up...and especially when they were being told through official CCP and WHO channels that there was no problem. They found out for themselves and took steps, so I think that would be something the rest of the world would have been interested in then, and should be interested in now. And the WHA conference is a great place to disseminate that info to the wider community. Sorry if it embarrasses the CCP and it's narrative, but I think we are kind of past that now wrt this thing.
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Old 05-15-2020, 09:37 AM
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This isn't something new...Taiwan had this status for years, and only lost it (at the behest of mainland China and the CCP) in, IIRC, 2017.

Additionally, there is no real reason except the CCPs bullying, why Taiwan shouldn't be an observer.

Essentially, the CCP is the ones who have waged a campaign of threats and pressure to keep Taiwan off of this thing. So, I'm asking you 'dopers what you think about that. If you think that the world should cater to China on this, then that's fine. It's an answer. If you think that Taiwan should be allowed back in as an observer, that's fine too. Just curious where people stand on this.
I agree this is the issue. And I agree that China is being petty on this point and has no legitimate reason to ban Taiwan.

But the Chinese policy exists and we can't ignore it. So we have to ask ourselves if this is where we want to draw a line in the sand?
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Old 05-15-2020, 12:27 PM
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That's absurd in terms of practical reality, but not absurd so far as "historical claims" go - the KMT did at one point rule mainland China. The opposite is not true, however: the CCP has never controlled Taiwan, and therefore has zero claim to it whatsoever.

As for the CCP side of the equation, well, I said it before: the USA owns Australia because Britain. The two claims just aren't equivalent. And Taiwan claiming historical control over the mainland doesn't justify the CCP claiming Taiwan.
Eh, I think that argument is equally absurd. I'm perfectly fine with rejecting the 'we owned it historically' idea entirely. But what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Because if what you are claiming is correct, that which political party was in charge where at some point in time is how you are defining control, Taiwan lost all claims( i.e. not just policy views )to the mainland the second the DPP came to power in 2000( or 2016 if you want to be a stickler over majority vs. plurality ). And the claim would be magically gained back again as soon as the KMT won back control. That's just silly.

The KMT considered themselves to be the legitimate successors to the claims of the Imperial Qing who controlled Taiwan from ~1683-1895, hence the demands they made for its return during WW II. The CCP consider themselves to have exactly the same claims. Can't say one claim looks any superior to the other from my cheap seat.

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Old 05-15-2020, 01:35 PM
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Before I participate, I'd like some clarification: Is mainland China properly referred to as the People's Republic of China (PRC), or the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) these days? I suppose it's possible that one might assert it to be a distinction without a difference, but how does, say, the UN roster of member states list it?
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Old 05-15-2020, 02:28 PM
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Before I participate, I'd like some clarification: Is mainland China properly referred to as the People's Republic of China (PRC), or the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) these days? I suppose it's possible that one might assert it to be a distinction without a difference, but how does, say, the UN roster of member states list it?
You got it,

mainland China = PRC
the party itself = CCP



Think of it as the difference between USA and GOP.
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Old 05-15-2020, 03:02 PM
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Thanks, Velocity.

Here's my suggestion: Perhaps a face-saving (from the perspective of the CCP) idea would be to invite the PRC to subdivide discussion of its Covid-19 responses and results into regions, and to include the Taiwan response and results as a usable set of data (for the purposes of WHA analysis).
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Old 05-15-2020, 06:34 PM
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The KMT considered themselves to be the legitimate successors to the claims of the Imperial Qing who controlled Taiwan from ~1683-1895, . . .
Nowadays this mistaken claim (the Qing rarely controlled more than the west coast) is pushed to PRC schoolchildren.

It took the Japanese military to unify the island.
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Old 05-15-2020, 07:18 PM
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Nowadays this mistaken claim (the Qing rarely controlled more than the west coast) is pushed to PRC schoolchildren.

It took the Japanese military to unify the island.
Yeah, but it becomes kinda a semantics issue. A Taiwanese monarch with ties to the old Ming regime surrendered to the Qing monarch and received a nice title and commission and Taiwan was declared a prefecture. That said monarch had never controlled more than one chunk of Taiwan and Taiwan generally remained a poorly assimilated hotbed of revolt was neither here nor there as far as the Qing themselves were concerned. An unruly, rebellious prefecture was still just a prefecture in their eyes, not a distinct state with any standing.

It's a bit like speculating whether the Great Plains acquired by the U.S. via the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 was actually part of the U.S. when it was still filled with hostile, independent tribes like the Lakota. You could argue either way depending on your POV.

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Old 05-15-2020, 10:49 PM
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Before I participate, I'd like some clarification: Is mainland China properly referred to as the People's Republic of China (PRC), or the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) these days? I suppose it's possible that one might assert it to be a distinction without a difference, but how does, say, the UN roster of member states list it?
The country is the People's Republic of China. The Chinese Communist Party is a political organization that runs the country.

The People's Republic of China is technically not a one-party state. In order to maintain the fig leaf that they allow dissent, the country is ruled by a coalition of nine political parties. But the one that's clearly in charge if the CCP and the other eight are just tokens.
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Old 05-18-2020, 01:20 PM
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I think, that the government of Taiwan should be very wary of antagonizing China because of current events.

The question really for Taiwan is : who can it count as an ally ? The US has clearly stated itís policy of America first even to NATO. The US has clearly ditched the Afghans and thrown them to the wolves. China has been quietly and steadily buying businesses in the US since the COVID crisis and although Chinaís influence is invisible, it is very much there in US politics.

Australia and much of Africa is in Chinaís pocket and Russia will support China blindly. UK wields political influence a mere shadow of its former self and will be dealing with BREXIT a long time to come.

With that premise, The real question is what will Taiwan gain by joining this observer group ? And what will it lose ?
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Old 05-18-2020, 01:54 PM
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I think, that the government of Taiwan should be very wary of antagonizing China because of current events.

The question really for Taiwan is : who can it count as an ally ? The US has clearly stated itís policy of America first even to NATO. The US has clearly ditched the Afghans and thrown them to the wolves. China has been quietly and steadily buying businesses in the US since the COVID crisis and although Chinaís influence is invisible, it is very much there in US politics.

Australia and much of Africa is in Chinaís pocket and Russia will support China blindly. UK wields political influence a mere shadow of its former self and will be dealing with BREXIT a long time to come.

With that premise, The real question is what will Taiwan gain by joining this observer group ? And what will it lose ?
I don't think you've been keeping up on current events wrt Australia. Far from being in China's pocket, they have really pissed the Chinese off with their call for an international probe. To the point where it's possible their meat exports to China are in real danger (though I understand the US, given our current shortfall in meat, is in discussions with the Aussies about buying that for us). Even Africa (which is a bunch of different countries that are hardly in lockstep with each other over anything, including China), at least in several countries, have pushed back against the Chinese over how badly many of their nationals have been treated in China at various points in this crisis, and how badly they have been portrayed in a lot of Chinese media and propaganda. This isn't to say that China doesn't have a lot of countries by the short and curlies, but I think there is more push back happening against China atm than you think.

As to the US and Taiwan, I'd say...depends. Right now, US/Taiwan relations seem to be at a high point, with many US officials actively praising Taiwan and even trying, against China's fervent demands, to get Taiwan reinstated as an observer...which is what this thread is about, after all. We have also done several recent sales of arms, again over the protests of the Chinese, as well as a bunch of 'freedom of navigation' exercises which sent US warships into contested areas in and around Taiwan...again, much to the displeasure of the Chinese, with several confrontations happening (and less anyone think this is just academic to me, I have 2 sons in the area, both on ships doing these things, which has freaked me and my wife out quite a bit).
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:17 PM
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It's also the same insane troll logic the ROC uses to claim mainland China.
I do not think that is the official position any more.
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Old 05-18-2020, 03:40 PM
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I do not think that is the official position any more.
No, the Republic of China has never officially renounced the One-China Policy. Although they have strongly hinted they would be willing to if the People's Republic of China did not object.
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Old 05-18-2020, 03:44 PM
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No, the Republic of China has never officially renounced the One-China Policy. Although they have strongly hinted they would be willing to if the People's Republic of China did not object.
Exactly. The real issue isn't that Taiwan wants to or even thinks, realistically that they COULD claim all of the mainland, it's that the CCP won't LET them renounce it. Hell, they have directly threatened them if they even talk about it. Currently, the CCP is blustering (with real steel behind the bluster) about taking some of the islands that Taiwan has citizens on and claims if the Taiwanese don't toe the line or if 'secessionists' don't shut up and stop talking about this stuff.

It's not a choice for Taiwan to renounce their claims on the mainland, as that would pretty much throw into question the entire One-China Policy. This has been so for a while now, as China is really pushing this One-China, Two Systems thing...specifically with Taiwan in mind.
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Old 05-18-2020, 04:17 PM
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I don't think you've been keeping up on current events wrt Australia. Far from being in China's pocket, they have rea.....
XT - I admire your enthusiasm and optimism but I am not buying it.

There is a lot of political posturing going around all over the world but that wonít amount to much. People want to go back to business as usual and Chinaís domination is business as usual. Have you been to Australia or Canada ? Many of the key businesses are owned by the Chinese.

There was a lot of talk about taking Saudi Arabia to court over 911 or even recently over the murder of a reporter. Lots of political posturing but see how it all went away ? Convince me that this time itís different.
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Old 05-18-2020, 10:59 PM
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Exactly. The real issue isn't that Taiwan wants to or even thinks, realistically that they COULD claim all of the mainland, it's that the CCP won't LET them renounce it. Hell, they have directly threatened them if they even talk about it. Currently, the CCP is blustering (with real steel behind the bluster) about taking some of the islands that Taiwan has citizens on and claims if the Taiwanese don't toe the line or if 'secessionists' don't shut up and stop talking about this stuff.
Taiwan has free will.

That said, it is a different issue, if the results of renouncing claims to China, Mongolia, India, Nepal and elsewhere might set off a belligerent neighbor to annex islands/invade/set off a nuclear strike on both sides.

Taiwan, certainly under threat of retaliation, could
1) renounce claims to "Greater China" and
2) declare independence
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Old 05-19-2020, 01:28 AM
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Taiwan has free will.

That said, it is a different issue, if the results of renouncing claims to China, Mongolia, India, Nepal and elsewhere might set off a belligerent neighbor to annex islands/invade/set off a nuclear strike on both sides.

Taiwan, certainly under threat of retaliation, could
1) renounce claims to "Greater China" and
2) declare independence
The Chinese government has stated that while it is willing to voluntarily forego using military means to bring Taiwan back under Chinese control, there are two things that Taiwan could do that would end this policy; declare independence or develop nuclear weapons.

In other words, Taiwan can renounce its claims to the mainland and declare independence. But the cost would be a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Taiwan has less than 300,000 troops. China has over 2,500,000 troops. It's easy to predict what the outcome would be.

So Taiwan's free will in this situation seems to be pretty meaningless.
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Old 05-19-2020, 02:00 AM
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The Chinese government has stated that while it is willing to voluntarily forego using military means to bring Taiwan back under Chinese control, there are two things that Taiwan could do that would end this policy; declare independence or develop nuclear weapons.
It goes further than that. China has also announced before that Taiwan entering into a formal military alliance with a foreign nation (e.g., America or Japan,) or falling into domestic turmoil or chaos, or indefinitely refusing to move towards unification, would also be triggers for Chinese military action.


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the cost would be a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Taiwan has less than 300,000 troops. China has over 2,500,000 troops. It's easy to predict what the outcome would be.
A Chinese invasion of Taiwan is not likely to succeed. China has very limited amphibious and airlift capability and technology today favors the defender, not the attacker, in a D-Day type of landing. Only a fraction of China's army would be able to cross the Strait and even then very few beachheads would be suitable for a landing. (Ian Easton, a defense analyst, recently published a book that examines this topic in exhaustive detail.) Having 2.5 million troops is not meaningful; the true important number is the number that makes it across the Strait and manages to push inland. Furthermore, it would be a lot easier for Taiwan to muster regulars and mobilized reservists to the point of attack than it would be for China to send reinforcements to that point of attack (a Chinese landing at Taoyuan or Keelung, for instance, would be only a few hours' walk or bike or vehicle away from many hundreds of thousands of reservists.) Taiwan also owns several big islands in the Strait itself (Kinmen, Matsu and the Pescadores) which also serve as tripwires and could attack a Chinese fleet from behind (if China neutralizes them first, it would take days or weeks and would bleed a lot of its military strength while also losing all element of surprise for the subsequent main attack on Taiwan proper.)

A Chinese blockade, on the other hand, would stand a far better chance of success. Taiwan has only 2 modern submarines versus China's 70+, and a surface fleet that would be heavily outgunned by China's. In addition, a blockade could be done by interdicting Taiwan-bound shipping far from Taiwan itself (most of Taiwan's warships lack much reach or range.) Taiwan, having almost no coal or petroleum itself, is also heavily dependent on imported fossil fuels, and would be starved out of fuel within months.

Last edited by Velocity; 05-19-2020 at 02:04 AM.
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