An easy to read, thought provoking article by Edward Friedman on Taiwan's Independence Plot. I found several passages particularly interesting. First, on the CCP narrative which has been accepted by the international media:
And on how Beijing decides what amounts to a provocation even when Taiwan changes some domestic education policy (I suppose they'd rather have Taiwanese still being forced to worship the great Chiang Kai-shek):
In this constructed narrative of the CCP, there are only two viable possibilities, either Taiwan provokes war with China by seeking a legitimate international voice or it surrenders to China which treats the continuation of a separate Taiwan as a provocation. This article will show that this Hobson's dilemma for Taiwan— lose your democratic autonomy by either war or peace— is a historically comprehensible construction of the CCP which serves particular CCP interests at a certain historical moment.
In fact, identity changes inside of Taiwan culture and politics need have nothing to do with international politics, except that the CCP makes them an issue....
And an explanation of Beijing's motives for creating such a narrative:
Taiwan is actually ever more internationally isolated and has no way of changing the peaceful status quo in its favor. China's rulers know it. In the 1950s Mao made nationalistic propaganda in China about an Eisenhower administration supposedly preparing to unleash Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) military against China when he well knew and privately averred that President Dwight Eisenhower had actually leashed Chiang to prevent him from provocative actions. Then, as now, the big question was, what is the political logic behind a CCP propaganda campaign which turns the truth on its head? Why does the CCP treat a relatively weak Taiwan as if it were about to get international recognition of its de jure independence, and why do international observers not see through the CCP propaganda to the core reality of politics in Beijing?
Saunders is typical of top international analysts of China who reverse historical cause and effect and describe the PRC's threatening military build-up as an "important response to increasing U.S.-Taiwan security cooperation,"28 when, in fact, that cooperation began only after the China initiated Taiwan Strait crisis of 1996; that is, long after the CCP decided to build a military threat against Taiwan. China was not militarily reactive. It was the initiator.
Making believe there is a threat from Taiwan which could achieve de jure independence is a tactic of the CCP to obscure its real goal— undermining Taiwan's de facto independence.
One might ask why the CCP uses an Orwellian discourse about a peaceful rise when the CCP actually legitimizes military action.... The reason, international relations analyst William Callahan explains, is that, within this discourse about a peaceful China, for others to reject a CCP demand would back-foot them, make them seem against a peaceful China. If you insist that the PRC's demands on your territory prove China is not peaceful, you thereby reveal yourself to be China's enemy....
However, the CCP sees Taiwan as an obstacle to China's establishing itself as the predominant power in Asia [author goes on to quote PLA documents] .... The discourse emanating from China about a Taiwan independence plot that threatens the peace of the region is a smokescreen to camouflage actual CCP policy ambitions. Like the humiliated and vengeful Goujian (勾踐), the CCP has been patient. Its objective is not a secret, however.
And the solution?
So there you go. Read and enjoy. Feel free to comment here.
Perhaps it is true that China is trapped by its own post-1989 reconstruction of Chinese national identity, hoisted on its own petard. Perhaps the CCP has chosen to jump on the back of a man-eating tiger and now cannot dismount and back off without risking being eaten alive. Perhaps. However, the key point is that the source of the threat to the peace lies in Beijing and not in Taipei. However much an annexation policy agenda toward Taiwan has, for the moment, been embedded in Chinese nationalism,that is a construction with a recent history. It is not some deep Chinese cultural essence.
War or peace, therefore, is not about politics in Taipei. There is no Taiwan plot which threatens to end the mutually beneficial Taipei-Beijing relationship. Taiwan is ever more economically integrated into the Chinese economy. Rather, the threat to the peace is about politics and policy in Beijing. That is why it is important to see how, in the post-1989-91 era, a certain ruling group in Beijing redefined patriotism to serve its core purposes—monopolizing domestic power and expanding international power.