Taiwan: Schrödinger's State
Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, rejected China’s offer to unify the island with the mainland under a “one country, two systems” regime. Instead, the President vowed to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty and safeguard its democracy.
One country, two systems means that while there is one China, different regions such as Hong Kong and Macau can maintain administrative and economic systems of their own. A bit like those parents who prefer having their children at home after graduating at age 33.
But, because Taiwan never subscribed to it, it is seen as a rebel province by the Chinese government.
On the face of it, the two systems deal doesn’t sound all that bad. Then again, the mass protests in Hong Kong have cast doubt on whether the Chinese government truly accepts different systems while being part of China.
As a result, Tibet could risk replacing free press with large scale organ harvesting if it were to give in to China, which doesn’t sound brilliant.
What is surprising is that Taiwan has been able to keep the giant superpower at bay for this long.
Despite the rejection of Chinese rule, Taiwan has never claimed formal independence. China has even threatened to go to war if they were to do so. As a result, Tsai Ing-wen denies seeking independence, while still refusing China’s not so tempting offer.
Think of Taiwan as some sort a Schrödinger’s state; if you don’t want the state to vanish, don’t ask too many questions.
Of course, it remains to be seen for how long Taiwan can continue existing in the twilight zone. Not only has China been stepping up its teargas game in Hong Kong, but Taiwan’s rebel status is widely regarded as a show of China’s weakness.
Another problem is the lack of international support for Taiwan. Currently, only 15 what Donald Trump might call shithole countries recognise Taiwan as a state in its own right. What’s more, Microstates like Kiribati are being pressured by China to sever political ties with Taiwan in return for aid. And without the support of Kiribati, it’s hard to see how Taiwan will stand its ground.
So while it’s courageous to change your Facebook status to ‘I stand with Hong Kong’ and wear a ‘free Tibet’ hoodie at your safe space university is pretty fearless, it doesn’t come across as very sincere.
If countries continue to cow-tow to China due to trade and business interests, don’t count on many democracies in the region to survive. If it were up to China there would be one country and 195 systems, and that’s unlikely to be stopped by brave Tweets and hoodies alone.
On the plus side, America’s approved a $2.2 billion sale of tanks and F16s to the region. South Park also turned itself against China and The Netherlands passed a motion supporting Taiwan’s participation in international organisations. And when you’ve got South Park and the Netherlands on your side, nothing can stop you.