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February 2, 2009
China and Taiwan cope with decades of tension

Last May, Ma Ying-jeou was sworn in as Taiwan’s new president and promised to improve relations with mainland China, as the two territories have displayed tension since the Kuomintang’s 1949 retreat to the island.

Worldfocus correspondents Dave and Amy Marash traveled to Taiwan to learn more about the island and its progressing relations with mainland China.

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21 comments

#21

MY CONCERN, MR. LEE, WITH REGARD TO CHINA AND TAIWAN, WHICH YOU STATE AS PEACEFULL, IS OVER THE PROSPECTS OF AN ARMED CONFLICT THAT COULD EASILY OVERSPILL AND BRING IN KOREA, JAPAN, AND THE U.S. BY THE WAY, I TEACH ASIAN HISTORY; SO, YOU THINK I SHOULD READ MORE BOOKS?

#20

Mr. Patterson and Mr. Turton,

Thank you for taking part in this discussion. I always apprecaiate alternative views. May I remind you that I have not expressed any Chinese “colonial” views. I am merely stating that if Worldfocus compares ‘China’ and ‘Taiwan’ side by side as countries, then it is automatically taking sides in the identity debate. I really don’t think that there is any debate in the term ‘Mainland China’. If you disagree, I welcome your further arguments.

#19

Being a long term resident of Taiwan does not mean one represent the wishes of all 23 million citizens. As a Taiwanese we obviously see Taiwan as independent from China however it doesn’t mean nobody wants an eventual peaceful reunification. Generally speaking Worldfocus viewers should note that expats like Michael Turton tend to favor the pan-green movement which advocates de jure independence and as such on english sites one can observe a slant towards those ideals.

#18

to patterson:
it all depends on how the questions were prased,the intention of person conducted the poll,the definition of the issues,the backgroung info go with the questions,the place,the methods(thru phone or other),the period or time point( such as after 9/11, certain big news or surveys).the sampled groups,and the sample size etc. the election and polls should be very similar if the poll is accurate,and the election is fair and square. if you care to watch a little bit of some other nations’ things(such as polls conducted in other country, or some history of many native people in other countries),you would agree that stur up a problem( make it more serious than it is),tear open the healing wounds,ignore that all other ethnic groups also entitles the same justice (not just a small group biase-minded radicals),is very much a biased act. hitler is the master of stur up problem within germany by scapegoating jewish people. the mainlanders (migrated to taiwan in 1949) will be the scapegoats if your thinking and practice thru the taiwan independe radicals is carried out. again your basic logics is wrong if your care to know that the native people in taiwan is KAOSHANZHU(MALAYAN) NOT THE TAIWANESE( TAIWANIAN) YOU REFERRED TO,AND TAIWANIAN AND MAINLANER CHINA ARE IN THE (HEALING)RECONCILE PROCESS. THANK YOU .

#17

David H.:
Zogby and Global View are biased? That’s news to me. Neither is from Taiwan. And you fail to understand that a poll of Taiwanese identity does not equal an election poll. Although, if you care to analyze Ma’s current popularity, polls also show it has fallen from about 70 percent to about 30 percent now.

Finally, the fact that you equate people who love Taiwan and support that country in the international community with Hitler says a thing or two about you.

#16

to Janice,Patterson,and Turton:
PUT DIRTY FINGERS TO TEAR OPEN THE HEALING WOUNDS,OR TO FAN UP HADREDS AMONG BROTHERS,TO ENCOURAGE A NATION TO FIGHT CIVIL WARS,IT IS A CRIME BY ANY STANDARD. NOW TAIWANIAN AND MAINLANDER CHINESE ARE IN THE HEALING MODE,ANY PERSON OR GROUPS TRY TO PUT DIRTY THINGS ON IT, SHOULD UNDERSTAND THIS IS A CRIMINAL ACT BY ANY STANDARDS. THANK YOU ANY WAY! ( HITTLER’S RACISM NOT ONLY KILLED MANY INTELLEGENT JEWISH PEOPLE, BUT ALSO MANY MANY RUSSIANS,POLISHS,GERMANS ENGLISH,AND AMERICAN. FAN UP A WAR IS A CRIME.

#15

to janice,patterson,and turton:
i think your statement is meaningless and baseless. those surveys are always biased,otherwise the current r.o.China’s Ma will not be the president with 80+% votes. ACTUALLY ALL STATES,BIG CITIES,DIFFERENT ETHNIC GROUPS,DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS SECTS,EVEN EACH BLOCKS OF A VILLAGE COULD BE MANY SEPARATE ENTITIES. hITLER’s separation skill lead to THE MURDERING OF MILLIONS INNOCENT PEOPLE. ALMOST ALL NATIONS
HAVE DIFFERENT ENTITIES WITHIN , BASED ON YOUR LOGICS THEY ALL SHOULD BE INPENDENT.( SO TO BE VERY VULNERABLE TO BE KILLED) . PLEASE NOTE THE NATIVE TAIWANIAN(PEOPLE) IS MALAYAN AND AINU( RELATED TO RYUKYO(OKINAWA)). AND ANY COUNTRY’S CONSTITUTION IS ALWAYS MORE OR LESS FORCED UPON ITS PEOPLE. DO NOT MENTION ANY OF THE EMPORORS,ALL KING EMPORROS IN WORLD ARE TYRNATS MORE OR LESS. CONSTITION OR LAW DO BRING A LITTLE FAIRNESS OR STABLENESS TO THE COMMONERS. IT IS HELPLESSLY TRUE AND ONLY CERTAIN GROUP OF PEOPLE DO NOT WANT THE UNIFICATION OF CHINA, THEY WANT TO SEE THE BLOOD OF PEOPLE ,CHINESE OR ANY OTHER PEOPLE DOES NOT MATTER TO THEM, ONLY $$MONEY MATTERS) EX-PRESIDENT CHEN IS A VERY GOOD SAMPLE ? THANK YOU ANYWAY.

#14

One more note: I would also note that if Worldfocus decides to call the entities on either side of the Taiwan Strait “Taiwan and mainland China”, Worldfocus will, in fact, be taking sides by effectively declaring that Taiwan is a part of China… an opinion that, as Costow notes, is debatable, and is even deplorable in the eyes of the majority of Taiwanese. If Mr. Costow’s noble goal is to maintain neutrality, he couldn’t be less successful by suggesting that his own non-neutral term be employed. Neutrality indeed!

#13

In response to Costow’s sensitivity, I would remind everyone that poll after poll in recent years (conducted by Zogby and Global View to name a few) show that the majority of the inhabitants of the island identify themselves as Taiwanese and not Chinese. Moreover, the majority already have the opinion that the country, whatever it is called, is de facto independent. Finally, I would remind him that it is only the current party in power that persists in calling the country the ROC, and that this represents an ideology that was imposed on the inhabitants of the island AFTER the colonialist KMT arrived in the 40s. Need I say that the KMT is that current party in power?

What is more disturbing to me is the refusal of some people to understand international realities in the name of placating an authoritarian government that, on the one hand talks of peaceful rises but, on the other, threatens its neighbours with acts of war.

As a previous resident of Taiwan, I second Michael Turton’s view. Anyone who has had significant contacts with a significant number of Taiwanese would be able to see the shortsightedness of your evaluation.

Moreover, I applaud the Worldfocus for its clear understanding of a key international reality.

#12

The “non-recognition” of Taiwan by other governments operates mostly at the at a highly technical (some would say esoteric) level of international law. In most practical respects governments do have to treat Taiwan as a separate country, from the more mundane mechanics of visa issuance and currency exchange, to the broader realms of trade policy, human rights, and military-to-military relations. Thus I would say that only the use of the word “state” to describe Taiwan might conceivably be construed as a breach of neutrality on the “unresolved” issue of Taiwan’s status, as it is the only word that carries that kind of legal precision. For instance, Merriam-Webster defines “country” as “a political state or nation or its territory,” OR “the land of a person’s birth, residence, or citizenship.” (Note the use of the disjunctive, indicating flexibility in its definition.) Similarly, the all-powerful Wikipedia says that a country is “frequently, but not always…considered a sovereign territory.” Furthermore: “In common usage, the term country is used casually in the sense of both nations and states, with definitions varying. In some cases it is used to refer to both states and other political entities.” I think for the people whose ancestors migrated from China roughly around the same time as the pilgrims landed at Plymouth–which is to say, the vast majority of the population in Taiwan–and who have been living and dying on the island for centuries completely cut off from the political convulsions unfolding in China, calling Taiwan a country, as in the land of their birth, citizenship, and residence, achieves the very modest goals of describing reality. Which I would assume is one of the objectives of WorldFocus.

Also, the ROC constitution was shoved down the throats of millions of Taiwanese who, at the time of its writing, were being told that they were subjects of the Japanese empire, and by the losing side of a civil war that they did not participate in. It therefore suffers from a severe deficit of legitimacy, to say the least, and the fact that it contains a statement about the territorial integrity of China doesn’t go very far toward proving much of anything.

#11

LOL. China and Taiwan ARE separate entities. No ethnic Chinese emperor ever owned or was interested in the island — China’s drive to annex it dates from the early 1940s.

As more Mr. Costow, it is bad enough when Chinese express colonial desires with respect to Taiwan, but it is totally reprehensible that there are western individuals who want China to annex Taiwan, and think it OK that China promises to murder Taiwanese and others who stand in its way, and plunge the region into war. Taiwan is a democracy, and it deserves the support of all freedom-loving individuals.

Speaking as a longtime resident of the island, there is hardly a person on it who wants to be annexed to China. Most people identify with the island and support the current situation, de facto independence.

Mark Twain said once that history doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme. It would be a shame if the powers permitted China to annex Taiwan, and to extend its expansionist ambitions another step, an event that would almost certainly lead to war as China covets numerous territories belonging to other nations, including the Senkakus off Taiwan, and an entire India state.

Michael Turton
The View from Taiwan blog

#10

THE CONSTITUTION PUBLISHED MANY MANY YEARS AGO (MORE THAN 50 YEAR),BY R.O.CHINA HAS VERY CLEAR STATEMENT ABOUT THE TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY OF CHINA,WHICH INCLUDED TAIWAN. AND THERE ALSO HAVE STATEMENTS ABOUT THE UNIFICATION OF MAINLAND CHINA. AND THERE ARE INSTITUTIONS TO HANDLE THE ISSUES AND TERMS OF REUNIFICATION OF CHINA. AND R.O. CHINA IS CURRENTLT RULED 2 CHINESE PROVINCES,FUJIAN AND TAIWAN. THANK YOU.

#9

TO LEN PEYRONNIN
MY LEADER IS NOT IN BEIJIN, I CAME FROM TAIWAN. IF PEOPPLE IN TAIWAN OR ANYWHERE LEARNED THE TRUTH,MOST OF THEM WOULD AGREE THAT TAIWAN IS PART OF CHINA. THE NATIONALIST GOV’MT NEVER STOP CLAIM THAT MAINLAND CHINA IS PART OF CHINA iNCLUDING TAIWAN. THE ONLY TIME PEOPLE IN TAIWAN STOP CLAIMING MAINLAND AND TAIWAN ARE PART OF CHINA IS AROUND 1996 AND THERE AFTER(WHEN NATIONALISTS IN TAIWAN THINK IT IS COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE TO RECOVER THEIR RULING OF MAINLAND. CHINA AND AMERICAN SHARE MANY OTHER THING IN COMMON. IF YOU CARE TO READ A LITTLE MORE ABOUT ASIA AND CHINA. THANK YOU ANYWAY. BY THE WAY I HAVE NO LEADER(S) AND I TRIED TO OPEN MY EYES AND AND TRIED TO ANALYZE THE LOGICS OF THE EVENTS. ACTUALLY THE PEACEFUL SITUATION IN TAIWAN AND MAINLAND CHINA WILL DEFINITELY BENEFIT THE USA (IF THAT IS WHAT YOUR MAIN CONCERNS). CHINESE WILL ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL TO MANY OF THE BRAVE AMERICAN PILOTS GAVE THEIR YOUNG LIFE FOR CHINESE DURING THE DEMON-LIKE JAPANESE AGGRESSION.

#8

However, Taiwan’s wishes to remain a separate, non-Communist state need to be respected by the PRC. Any PRC attempt to violently force the Taiwanese matter to their favor will only result in trouble with America. I hope your leaders in Beijing know this.

#7

To Mr. David H. Lee I say this: Amen, bro. China and America are the two greatest nations on earth. The best of the new and the greatest of the old. Anyway, we have a marriage of debt and mutual economic committments.

#6

FOR THE PAST 1OO YEAR RUSSIA AND JAPAN TRIED TO DIVIDE CHINA INTO MANY PIECES. THE WESTERN COUNTRIES PARTICULARLY THE USA DOES NOT HAVE TO FOLLOW THEM.(US IS THE ONLY COUNTRY GAVE SUBSTANCIAL HELP TO CHINA DURING THE MOST DIFFICULT TIME WHEN VICIOUS JAPANESE ATTACKED CHINA) BECAUSE THIS IS AGAINST THE VERY INTERESTS OF BOTH COUNTRIES. ( PLEASE JUST PICTURE THAT IF CHINESE AND AMERICAN ARE VERY CLOSE BROTHERS THE WORLD WOULD BE MUCH EASIER.( THAT IS BASED ON MANY HISTORICAL ANALYSES). THAT BIG DICTATOR STALIN ALWAY WANTED CHINA AND US FIGHTING AN ETERNAL WAR. JAPAN ALSO WANT CHINA AND US HAVE CONSTANT CONFLICT. SO THE REVENGE (OF ATOMIC BOMBS’ ATTACK ON JAPAN) CAN BE MATERIALIZED.
ANY EDUCATED AMERICANS KNOW THAT TAIWAN IS PART OF CHINA, AND TAIWAN’S CURRENT STATUS IS A TEMPORARY RESULT OF THE PAINFUL CIVIL WAR. THANK YOU.

#5

bijan, thank you very much for your feedback. I hope that my criticism is perceived as constructive. I really am a fan on Worldfocus! Calling the political entity on the island a country by the name of “Taiwan” should always raise red flags, if only because the government in Beijing has threatened war if ROC changes its name. I appreciate the need to present information neatly for American viewers but there are easier ways to circumvent thorny issues like these. For example, referring to Mainland China versus Taiwan (as opposed to China and Taiwan), and being careful on how to use the word “country.”

#4

Ah, my comment came up after your second comment…

.. was just going to add that I think you’re right that “Mainland China” helps make the use of “Taiwan” a little cleaner.

#3

I wonder (and really assume that it’s not the case) if anyone went “out of their way” to refer to ROC as Taiwan. Our audience is “most Americans” I suppose, and the juxtaposition of China/Taiwan means a lot more to people than the juxtaposition of PR(o)C/ROC…

At the same time I agree that semantics matter and wonder if it’s a better decision to go for semantic accuracy / consistency than that which would relate the easiest…

For instance I wrote the short intro on the page and used “Taiwan” because I assume most readers would be confused by ROC (and would find it to be oddly ‘talking down’ to include some sort of information (not to mention that I increases my risk of factual error(while using Taiwan just puts me in the realm of common reference…)))

Anyway, we (or at least I) appreciate both the criticism and the encouragement…

– bijan, worldfocus.org

#2

To be more precise in my previous comment, the special (posted as a video on this page) itself was done with sensitivity. Dave Marsh did a great job to avoid falling in the trap of taking issues in the story. However, it was Martin Savidge who introduced the special tonight by talking about Taiwan being ’50 miles from China’ and about ‘the two countries’. I found this lack of sensitivity upsetting because I generally view Worldfocus as an unbiased program. I hope that your staff will take steps to be more aware of such problems in the future.

#1

While I am a big fan of Worldfocus, I have to say that I was disappointed by the way this special feature was presented tonight. The strength of Wordfocus is in its objective and unbiased reporting. When trying to maintain a neutral viewpoint, semantics matter a lot. This is why the decision to juxtapose the “two countries” called “China” and “Taiwan” was particularly upsetting. In a world where no world government recognizes a country called Taiwan (rather, some governments recognize the Republic of China), and particularly because even the political entity on the island calls itself the Republic of China, there was no need for Worldfocus to go out of its way to refer to it as a country called Taiwan. Moreover, several times the program made statements that made it seem that Taiwan is different and separate from China. While this might or might not be so, I do not think that Worldfocus can afford to take sides on this very controversial issue. In the future, I would advise your editors to be more sensitive. A simple usage of the term “Mainland China” when comparing against Taiwan would have sufficed. Thank you very much and I hope to see even more good work coming from your team in the coming year!

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