March 16, 2005

You are on the invidual archive page of Daily linklets 16th March. Click Simon World weblog for the main page.
Daily linklets 16th March

This is a daily collection of links, some with commentary, to news stories and interesting blog posts. It will be updated throughout the day with a new timestamp for the updates.

Scroll down for today's other posts.

  • Brian Dunn states the Chinese will invade Taiwan. (via IP). His proof? China's military modernisation program, the newly passed anti-secession law and an article in the Taipei Times. Pretty flimsy. China's been preparing to invade Taiwan since the split in the 1940s. The PLA's military modernisation program has been going on for years. They make no secret that their main intention is to prepare for a Taiwan invasion. It's why the PLA couldn't offer much logistical help after the tsunami. The anti-secession law codifies what has been policy for 50 years. In some respects it shows restraint from previous policy positions. Mr Dunn says I would really like it if the Chinese evolved some sanity and became a normal, civilize [sic] country without territorial objectives to be achieved at others [sic]expense. You'd think China would recognize it has enough problems 360 degrees without driving us [the USA] into the enemy camp. The American Civil War was fought over a bunch of territories trying to secede from the Union. In a more modern context if California announced it was going Communist and leaving the USA, would the rest of America accept that blindly? Before shooting from the hip it pays to know at least a little about what you speak. Where's Thomas Barnett? Update: Is this reader of IP delusional? On one hand China's the baddy because they have such a large trade balance with the USA; on the other its part of an evil plot to distract the US and flood the world with US dollars? China holds US$600 billion in reserves and America is its largest trading partner. China wants Taiwan but fears America's reaction. They're not stupid. Nor need they be America's rivals...unless Americans want them to be. Second update: Giving Taiwan nukes as an answer? Maybe the good Professor is also losing the plot. At a time when the world is trying to de-nuclearise North Korea and Iran, adding more nukes to the Taiwan question is a recipie for disaster. Update 3: From the Jamestown Foundation (see below): The PRC's defense industry: reform without improvement. They're running to stand still. That's why I'm sceptical about China's "military modernisation program".
  • Could Collins be returning to blogging? Will it fill the void left by Bill formerly of BV?
  • Congrats to both Rusty and Jim.
  • Dan Drezner picks up on The Epoch Times story saying 200,000 Chinese have quit the CCP. As many of the commenters hint, The Epoch Times is owned and bankrolled by the Falun Gong movement. Along the Journey noted the same story and found a website listing those supposedly quitting the CCP. This likely isn't getting wider airing because it hasn't been corroborated by independent sources.
  • Congratulations and support for China's anti-secession law is poring in from Syria, Ethiopia, Belarus, Indonesia, Cambodia, Cuba, Venezuela and Dominica.
  • Feeling confident about Hong Kong's new Chief Executive? Donald Tsang still isn't sure about the sucession arrangements.
  • The SCMP reports a planned three way merger between Dragonair, Cathay Pacific and Air China. What a great test for Hong Kong's new Government. Would they prefer a national champion that dominates or even monopolises key routes? Or will they stick to their current policy of aviation competition? I'll wager the former.
  • China's economy is still booming, despite the central Government's best efforts. Industrial output is up 17% and fixed asset investment up 24.5% on a year earlier. The inflation genie is also creeping out of its bottle. The world might be relying on China to be the economic growth engine, but it is close to being out of control.
  • (12:17) How to beat Wal-Mart and its "Always low prices".
  • I'm not an iPod fanatic. But if you have been claimed by the iPod cult, here's the loo for you.
  • (13:04) If you're not reading Japundit, why not?
  • (17:43) Chris is rightly unimpressed by Simon Patkin in the SCMP. Poor paper, poor pundits.
  • By contrast a new post at the Jamestown Foundation: Factional Politics and Beijing's Tightening Grip on Hong Kong. To paraphrase Tom: go, read some decent punditry.
posted by Simon on 03.16.05 at 05:43 PM in the Daily linklets category.


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China Lines Them Up
Excerpt: Supporters that is. I'm not particularly worried by China's latest unification flexing. These things come and go. I did find it a bit peculiar that both Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan both made statements in support of China's policy on Taiwan at the s...
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various comments on the "anti-secession law"
Excerpt: various comments on the "anti-secession law"
Weblog: Bingfeng Teahouse
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Spot China's lackeys in South Asia
Excerpt: Pakistan and King Gyanendra's Nepal show remarkable alacrity in backing China's anti-secession law Pakistan was the first one off the mark. It enthusiastically declared its support for China's new anti-secession law that authorises the use of force ...
Weblog: The Acorn
Tracked: March 17, 2005 12:02 PM


I don't think it's really the same with Taiwan and California. California has been a part of the US for over 160 years. Taiwan was an official part of China for 8 years in the 19th century (1887-1895) and 4 years in the 20th century (1945-1949). That's 12 years total. In contrast, Taiwan was a part of Japan for 50 (1895-1945) years and Okinawa was part of the United States for 28 years (1945-1973).
The argument is more that Taiwan's people are chinese and that the Taiwanese government was the Chinese government, right? The claim is more political than territorial I think. I'd be like if US democrats ran to Cuba and the main Republican US started saying that Cuba is a part of the US. Well, it once was in the late 19th century, and the government would be founded by Americans...

posted by: Andrew McManama-Smith on 03.16.05 at 09:22 AM [permalink]

Andrew is spot on. Another valid point is that the People's Republic of China has never ruled Taiwan, so the US Civil War analogy is quite mistaken, no matter how hard the CPC tries to make it fit.

posted by: dylan on 03.16.05 at 09:43 AM [permalink]

Andrew Mcmanama-smith is playing with his facts. Taiwan "province" existed for those 8 years during Qing China. However prior to that, Taiwan province did not exist and was a prefectural level entity that was part of Fujian province. To say that Taiwan was only part of China for 8 years by the 19th century is beyond a misinterpretation but rather what I would qualify as a deliberate and disingenous attempt to manipulate history to support separatism. Taiwan prefecture was incorporated into Fujian province in 1683. In 1875 Taiwan prefecture was further subdivided into a north and south administrative regions. In 1887, the date that China "allegedly" acquired Taiwan was in reality the date of another bureaucratic shuffle when Taiwan prefecture(s) were administratively removed from Fujian province and made a province in and of itself.

As for the anology comparing the Taiwan situation to a theoretical seccession by California from the Union, this is of course a rather limited relationship that is only superficially similar. However, this kind of reasoning would be missing the point entirely. The position of the mainland vis-a-vis Taiwan is that Taiwan is part of China, thus any attempts to declare an independent polity from either the PRC or ROC would be regarded as separatism. This is where the analogy holds true, the United States would in the same vein not look favourably upon states entertaining the idea of seccession and would in likelyhood use force to oppose it. Whether or not China can correctly regard Taiwan as part of China, is of course up to interpretation.

posted by: Jing on 03.16.05 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Well, Jing is completely wrong: It wasn't until 1684 that Taiwan was made part of Fujian :)

Of course, this date is at the other extreme to Andrew's; it's equally dubious to say Taiwan suddenly became a fundamental part of China then. Qing attitudes to Taiwan were pretty ambivalent at first (Han Chinese were forcibly repatriated from Taiwan to China, immigration to Taiwan was illegal for a long time, and only the Western parts of Taiwan were under Qing control). However, my rule of thumb is that about the start of the 19th century you could say Taiwan was fully part of China (by then Han outnumbered aborigine, there was more effort to develop and expand control on the island, and immigration was allowed).

That aside, I agree that Simon's analogies are waaay of the mark (I'd have though a better one for Simon would be Australia getting rid of the Queen).

The original article of course contains a lot of opinion; I wouldn't agree with it's conclusion, but only a fool would discount the possibility of war. I would also agree with its main conclusion that Taiwan needs to take its own defense a bit more seriously ...

posted by: David on 03.16.05 at 11:10 AM [permalink]

My analogies are only to highlight a point - why does China feel so strongly about Taiwan? It's historically difficult to argue that Taiwan was only a part of China for a short period. Beside the reasons above, also note that the Nationalists and the CCP fought the civil war over who would rule all of China, including Taiwan.

David is right - Taiwan does need to look more closely at their defense. But a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is not viable in the near future.

posted by: Simon on 03.16.05 at 11:30 AM [permalink]

I noticed the extra word you added to your arguement that was not part of my original response David. I never claimed that Taiwan was a "fundamental" part of China (mileage may vary depending on PRC propaganda). I merely stated that contrary to what Mr. Mcnanama-smith wrote, Taiwan was officially a part of China in 1683 no matter how one may slice the facts. Another analogy with America I believe would be appropriate in this case. Taiwan in some ways parallels the developement of the American frontier. Although technically claimed by the government, presence of settlers was sporadic and the extent of central authority was limited. That however did not stop the government from claiming those territories nor does it signify that those territories which would eventually become states were somehow not part of the Union even at that time.

If you'll forgive me for being so anal retentive about this issue, but it has become quite formulaic for fabrications and distortions to be repeated ad-infinitum and unchallenged by pro-separatist forces in the Taiwan debate. (framing them as separatists is admittedly an open bias on my part).

posted by: Jing on 03.16.05 at 04:25 PM [permalink]

One final comment not related to Taiwan, at least not directly. In response to your update regarding Instapundit readers, many Instapundit readers might be delusional and most commenters certainly are. They keep good company with the chief puppy himself. I know you are a conservative blogger but you appear to be the exception to the rule(perhaps because you are a Kiwi), but I have found that the conservative blogging circuit to be generally obnoxious, borderline paranoid, detached from reality, and pitifully ignorant when it concerns asia-pacific affairs. Prone to leaps in logic and judgement and erratic to the extreme. Perhaps I am reciting simply an indictment of the fallacies of man, but after reading so much worthless commentary from quite a number of blogs and not to mention the Free Republic I feel rather compelled to get it all out in the open. Case in point, Instapundits solution to this perceived dastardly machiavellian Chinese plan is to simply nuclearize the crisis.

Ironically my father earned his doctoral degree from UTK (The university where Reynold's teaches)and I have memories of his colleagues who seemed to be very rational people, but then again, they were biologists not law professors.

Oh p.s. I find your blog quite an enjoyable read and broad in scope. I'm sure you get a lot of this but keep up the good work.

posted by: Jing on 03.16.05 at 05:22 PM [permalink]

Thanks Jing. Minor point - I'm an Aussie. It's almost like calling a mainlander a Taiwanese!

Unfortunately you're right when it comes to Asia-Pacific issues and the response from many in the USA. Nuclearising Taiwan would make a bad situation worse, and is ironic given the efforts to denuclearise both NK and Iran.

I would contend it's not just on the right. Ignorance of the region and its issues is widespread but not surprising. That's our job - to demystify and hopefully shed a little light.

posted by: Simon on 03.16.05 at 05:28 PM [permalink]

Jing - I wasn't trying to put words into your mouth; apologies if you felt i was. I was merely trying to add a clarification. After all, you might notice that fabrications and distortions are not limited to one side of this argument (again, not directed at you) :)

Personally, I don't think the 'instapundit crowd' does subtlety or nuance particularly well, and that is something which is required in this area. Also, there's a tendency to look at things primarily from a military perspective.

Simon the Kiwi - heh. How do we make that name stick?

posted by: David on 03.16.05 at 08:28 PM [permalink]

In my defense... I guess I was wrong about the dates there. I wasn't intentionally distorting facts, those are just the facts as they were taught to me. And I am not pro-separationist or a China-basher. I believe that Taiwan will eventually be part of China and that's the way it should be. I just wasn't sure about the analogy.
Oh and those IP readers are delusional and more than a little bit scary.

posted by: Andrew McManama-Smith on 03.17.05 at 02:33 AM [permalink]

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