American money did not help. China will take Taiwan without a fight
Taiwan is a de facto separate state, de jure is one of the provinces of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The Taiwanese do not consider themselves part of the PRC and have been balancing for almost 70 years between independence and subordination to mainland China. TheEverydayNews.com understood how two completely different economies, political systems and two different societies emerged and coexist from one civilization: democratic Taiwan and authoritarian China. And why did capitalism in one particular state still lose to communism.
From the Empire to the Republic
Foreign intervention, bloody peasant uprisings, sluggish unsuccessful reforms - by the beginning of the 20th century, China, under the rule of the Qing Dynasty, has finally weakened and turned into a semi-colonial state: later this period in the Celestial will be called "a hundred years of humiliation." In 1911, enraged soldiers in Hubei Province rioted against the brutal commanders. The uprising a few days later turned into a revolution that put an end to the Chinese Empire that existed for more than two millennia. It happened in the year of the metal pig, or the year of Xinhai according to the traditional calendar. Therefore, the first Chinese revolution was called Xinhai, and the day of its beginning - October 10, a double-dozen - became a national celebration in the Republic of China.
It was not difficult to overthrow the rotten dynasty and did not take much time - only a couple of months. The Republic of China came to replace the Empire. Six months later, the ideological inspirer of the revolution, Dr. Sun Yat-sen announced the establishment of the Democratic Party, or the Kuomintang (国民党). The construction of a new China, free from the yoke of the monarchy and the Western powers, began.
While the country was experiencing perhaps the most powerful changes in its two-thousand-year-old imperial history, the island of Taiwan, given to Japan after the defeat of China in the war of 1894-95, was used by new masters for military purposes as a source of resources and a market. For 50 years of colonization of the island, the Japanese built a lot of industrial enterprises, roads, social institutions, brought equipment and military equipment, and also saved local residents from epidemics. The education system introduced by the Japanese during the years of its presence further influenced the "bifurcated" self-identification of the Taiwanese, because they were not yet Japanese, but they were neither aborigines nor Chinese.
While the island was japanization of local residents, on the mainland in all civil war was blazing. China, tormented by the Opium Wars, foreign intervention and local insurrections at the turn of the century, led by the government of the Republic of China, tried to recover and assert itself on the world stage. But the plans of the Republicans to turn China into a modern democratic state by the Western model were not shared by all.
Ten years after the founding of the Republic of China in 1921, the Chinese Communist Party - the CCP (共产党) was founded. The Communists, who in many respects took as their basis the experience of the Soviet Bolsheviks, saw the future of the country in the permanent revolution and struggle against Western imperialism, and not in the ideas of Sun Yatsen.
Communists were not the only problem for the new government. In the 30s, Japan began to realize its imperial ambitions in the territory of Northeast China and established the puppet state of Manchukuo on the border with the Russian Far East. The Japanese militarists did not stop there, and, using the instability inside China, in 1937 unleashed another Japanese-Chinese war. A kind of military triangle was formed in the country: the Chinese Communists headed by the Kuomintangs, Japan and the Republic of China. At this time, a young and energetic future leader, Mao Zedong, entered the political arena inside the CCP.
In 1945, after the end of the Second World War, the Japanese were forced to withdraw from the territory of China, and after and from Taiwan, leaving behind a visible infrastructural track. Four years later, the Communists won the civil war. About two million Kuomintang members, led by their new leader, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, were forced to flee to Taiwan. There they founded the Republic of China on Taiwan with its capital in Taipei.
At the same time, on October 1, 1949, in Beijing on Tiananmen Square, Mao Zedong announced the establishment of the People's Republic of China, becoming the chairman of the government of the new state. "The Chinese revolution culminated in the victory of the people, but this is only the first step of the Chinese people on the path of the Great March, we have to solve many tasks and carry out a lot of work. If you do not fall into conceit and self-righteousness, fill yourself with confidence, act cohesively and coordinate, then China's development and progress will be rapid," the new leader proudly declared.
Thus, the Chinese nation, which had not yet become one, was divided. Since the middle of the last century, the Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait looked at each other and dreamed of becoming one again. But only for the role of the main unifier both China claimed - both the Communist People's Republic of China and the Democratic Republic of China. No one wanted to give in.
Since the actual division of China, the heads of both republics declared reports that "returning to the Motherland" is not far off, the "one China" is already on the horizon, we are about to regain our native territories. The rhetoric of those and others was about the same. However, it is difficult to claim the status of a unifier and collector of Chinese lands, when the economy and society, tormented by war, need urgent resuscitation. Both republics preferred internal reconstruction.
The two shores of the Taiwan Strait with one past went to the future in completely different ways. The Republic of China headed for a more democratic development, while the PRC faced the task of rebuilding the destroyed country and embarking on the true path of communism and class struggle.
After the end of the Second World War and the division of the international community into two camps, capitalist and communist, the PRC under the rule of the CCP proved to be a less desirable partner for the West, and therefore in the United Nations until 1971 China represented the Republic of China, that is, Taiwan.
Initially, Taiwan broke ahead: Japanese modernization, Sun Yat-sen's democratic ideas, which underlay the ideology of the Kuomintang, and the great influence of the United States, helped. Washington was afraid of spreading the communist plague and supported its new ally.
The People's Republic of China at the beginning of its history followed the footsteps of its elder brother, the USSR. But shortly after the death of Joseph Stalin and the speech of Nikita Khrushchev at the 20th Congress of the CPSU, the ideology of the brothers deteriorated. Mao could not reconcile himself with the debunking of Stalin's cult of personality and accused the CPSU of revisionism. Since that time, Mao's regime has become more self-reliant. Beijing realized: now it is China that is the main communist power in the world.
The authorities of the Middle Kingdom decided to prove this, but it turned out so-so. In 1958, Mao announced the beginning of the political and economic policy of the Great Leap Forward. Slogans like "Three Years of Hard Work - 10,000 Years of Happiness!" And "20 Years of Labor in One Day - Approach the Coming of Communism!" rattled over the country!
The leap was to accelerate the industrialization of the country, in which agriculture was the main occupation for thousands of years. However, the replacement of professionalism with enthusiasm did not lead to anything good: the melting of all cast-iron frying pans in the country did not make it the leader in the production of steel. The results of the campaign were catastrophic: from 20 to 40 million people died of starvation. The big leap was a leap into nowhere, it became the second largest social catastrophe of the 20th century after the Second World War.
Immediate reforms required education. The Communists needed to raise the level of literacy of the population, and it was almost impossible to do this with the help of the traditional Chinese education system.
During the time of the Empire, it was extremely difficult to master Chinese diploma, although it is accessible to all layers of society. Education was mainly based on the memorization of ancient texts and canons. The Communists, on the other hand, began to create educational institutions in analogy with the USSR.
But the main obstacle in the spread of literacy was the Chinese language itself. The matter is that oral and written languages were very different from each other. Yes, and dialects in different regions of China sometimes differed so that soldiers from the south could not understand the commander from the eastern regions of the country. On the mainland, the language was reformed as follows: they created a common language for all spoken languages based on the northeastern and Beijing dialects and simplified the writing of hieroglyphs. They even invented a system for the Latin recording of their sounding "pinyin", which is widely used today.
In Taiwan, there was a slightly different task: it was necessary to organize society. Therefore, the authorities of the Republic of China took elements of the "traditional" Chinese education, added political postulates and emphasized the formation of an anti-communist worldview. Taiwanese still use traditional writing: for example, the same hieroglyph in Taiwan will be written like this 馬, and on the mainland so 马.
China's "jump" in modernization was followed by the lost decade of the 1960s and 1970s, which passed under the banner of the "cultural revolution." Mao's autocrat decided to strengthen personal power and get rid of counterrevolutionary elements and revisionists. In fact, the "cultural revolution" has become a major purge not only of the political elite, but of the thinking intelligentsia as a whole. At this time, the original Chinese term "brainwashing" (洗脑) appeared. Propaganda treated young people so that children reported to parents who "deviated from the course of the party,", and students were literally thrown out of the windows of teachers who spread the bourgeois infection, and also forced to learn. "Rejecting death, defend the line of the proletarian revolution of Chairman Mao!" crowed the crowds.
Ideology was the main engine of Mao's ideas, and therefore his speeches continued to sound calls to intensify efforts to pacify the Western imperialists who picked up Taiwan. And yet, there were no real resources for the actions.
Meanwhile, the island "faded away" from the communist continent. Since the early 1950s, reforms have begun, sponsored by American specialists. The landowners, albeit under pressure, but still bought the land and gave it to the peasants on terms of a long installment plan: so there was a class of farmers-owners. And the former landlords were able to apply their talent for earning money, investing in new economic undertakings.
The United States made a huge contribution to the development of Taiwan's economy: 30 percent of Taiwan's domestic investment in those years was American money. The Taiwanese economy gradually shifted from agrarian to industrial, and in the 1960s, the Republic of China itself became an international investor. This was at the same time that the communists were melting pans.
As a result of successful economic transformation, Taiwan has become one of the four "Asian tigers" along with South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. Prime Minister Li Kuan Yew said that he drew inspiration for the transformation in his homeland from Hong Kong and Taiwan.
In China, economic reforms aimed at the market, began soon after the death of Mao Zedong. The architect of Chinese restructuring, Deng Xiaoping, introduced the notion of "socialism with Chinese characteristics," and to justify the departure from the leftist policy of the predecessor, said that "no matter what color a cat, the main thing is that it catches mice."
Against the backdrop of the interest of both republics with their internal problems and transformations, the status quo has been maintained for some time in the matter of the unification of the island and the continent. Taiwan was fascinated by the transition to high-tech production, filling the world market with electronics under the label "made in Taiwan". The mainland was absorbed in the policy of reform and opening up to the outside world, getting rid of total poverty (in the 1980s, in many parts of China, peasants continued to live in dugouts, in one large bed often slept families) and creating a "medium prosperity" investments.
Until the early 1980s, both republics were guided by the "one China principle" in building relations with each other and the outside world. True, this very concept of the party was interpreted in different ways. The position of the PRC, which replaced the Chinese Republic in the UN in 1971, was unshakable and expressed in the formula: "There is only one China in the world. The PRC government is the only legitimate representative of China, and Taiwan is part of its territory." The Communists did not even want to hear the words "one China and one Taiwan", "two China" or "one state - two governments".
The Republic of China interpreted the "one China principle" as follows: Taiwan considered it a springboard for returning to the mainland, overthrowing the communist rebels and restoring their power. Nevertheless, there was a hope that the parties will talk with each other.
One and a half China
A new stage in the relationship between China and Taiwan began in the 1980s, when the PRC took the course to modernize the country, and Taiwanese leaders created the "Taiwan miracle", turning the island into an important potential partner for the continent, which at that time was just beginning economic transformation. Under these conditions, the PRC could no longer forcefully annex the island, as it could destroy the developed Taiwanese economy and exacerbate relations with the US that took the island under its protection.
The rhetoric that the countries used was also changed, talking about the problem: the PRC started talking about a peaceful solution to the Taiwan issue. In early 1979, Beijing invited "Taiwan compatriots" to start negotiations between the CPC and the Kuomintang. Taipei reacted strongly to this proposal and put forward the "three no" principle in relation to the PRC: there are no contacts, no negotiations, and no compromises with the Communists. The authorities of the Republic of China reasonably feared that by agreeing to concessions, they would fall into the trap of the principle of "two systems in one state", because the "state" was the PRC.
Taiwan also gradually withdrew from the idea of a triumphant return to the mainland. The younger generation no longer associated theirself with the "old land", new members of the ruling elite of local origin and did not think to return to their historical homeland. In 1991, Republican leader Li Teng-hui announced the "cessation of general mobilization to suppress the communist insurrection."
This step, equivalent to the de facto recognition of the PRC, was followed by the question: what then is Taiwan in relation to communist China? On the one hand, recognizing the principle of "one state, two systems" and become part of the PRC was unacceptable for the Republic of China. On the other hand, Beijing has repeatedly stated that it will not tolerate the existence of a "second China".
Taiwan found a new interpretation of the "one China principle": China is one if it is viewed in a historical, geographical and cultural sense, whatever that means. The leaders of Taiwan began to insist on maintaining the status quo and accepting the situation as it is.
Despite the fact that Beijing in response accused the Taiwanese of separatism, such a fundamentally new approach to the situation reduced tensions in the region: the parties spoke again. In the early 1990s, Taiwan established the Fund for Exchanges through the (Taiwan) Strait, and a later in the Association for Strait Communications was established in Beijing. Two of these organizations have become though small, but a slit in the concrete wall of the three Taiwanese "no".
In 1992, representatives of the two organizations met in Singapore: the two banks joined by a bridge of direct communication. This was the first meeting of representatives of the two banks since 1949. The parties came to the "1992 consensus": China is one and indivisible. China and Taiwan are not separate states. At the same time, under the "one China", each side again implied something of its own, but the differences in the interpretation of power - the People's Republic of China or the Republic of China - did not constitute an obstacle to dialogue.
Changes in relations opened the way for the development of economic relations between the PRC and Taiwan. However, the principle of "three no" was still in force, and therefore had to resort to bypass routes, and contacts were mainly established through Hong Kong.
The impressive economic success of Taiwan and the easing of tension in relations with the PRC, it would seem, had to appease the islanders, but, surprisingly, they had the opposite effect. Separatist sentiments intensified. In the 2000 presidential election, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won, which rejected the "one China" principle.
Beijing once again changed the wording of the "principle" and presented its rather neutral option. The PRC's explanations were rather blurred: the foreign minister of that time, Qian Qichen, said that "one China" is not at all something definite. It is enough that both banks recognize "one China", and it is not necessary to choose between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China. The framework of the PRC and the RC are almost identical, in this framework there is "one China". Such political schizophrenia remained a form of Sino-Taiwanese relations for many years.
No matter how Beijing tried to build a dialogue based on carefully thought out, but abstract language, Taipei saw in the actions of the PRC trap, get into that, Taiwan could no longer get out of it. After all, for the world community acceptance of the "principle" by the island will be tantamount to recognizing itself as part of the PRC.
In 2004, the leader of the DPP, Chen Shui-bian, won the presidential election in Taiwan. Prior to assuming office, the head of state categorically rejected Beijing's proposals to establish relations in the "center-provincial" format. Despite the fact that as president Chen was forced to abandon the most harsh statements about the proclamation of Taiwan's independence, he tried the tactics of the so-called "creeping separatism": he incorporated the law on referendum into law, drafted an unconstitutional constitution and annulled several programs on national unity , which the Kuomintang created back in the 1990s.
One of the most important results of Chen Shuibian's presidency was the formation of a new Taiwan identity. New history textbooks were published, authorities pumped money into research on historical and cultural topics, organized exhibitions and seminars on the self-determination of the Taiwanese nation. According to polls in 2006, 60 percent of the islanders considered themselves to be Taiwanese, and 33 percent considered Taiwanese and Chinese.
His actions forced Beijing to take more fundamental measures and to tighten the policy towards the island: indicative military exercises and rocket complexes began to be conducted in coastal provinces and large rivers. Relations once again became tense.
At the beginning of the XXI century, although Beijing tried to defuse the situation, there was no compromise. Taipei also defended his position irreconcilably. In the end, despite the fact that the economy on both sides of the strait began to converge, the parties found themselves in a political impasse.
Where is the shore, where is the edge
In 2007, a new generation of leaders led by Hu Jintao came to power in China. The whip against Taiwan again gave way to a carrot. Back in 2005, Hu advocated the peaceful unification of the island and the mainland with "the support of the consciousness of the people of Taiwan".
In the 2008 elections on the island, power returned to the supporters of the "one China principle" - the Kuomintang, led by President Ma Ying-jeou. Someone believes that the hand to this was applied by Beijing, but it is obvious that voters are tired of the "game of independence" and zigzag maneuvers of the previous leader. Moreover, the DPP's economic policy did not suit all Taiwanese.
The PRC extended a hand to the neighbor with a soft force and began to push the island in its direction: weakened restrictions on Taiwanese investments, signed an agreement on economic cooperation with Taipei, and created a special economic zone in Taiwan's bordering Fujian province.
Hu also stressed the strengthening of cultural ties, began negotiations on a peace agreement and even about the moderate participation of Taiwan in international organizations, provided that he does not insist on the concept of "two Chinas" or "one China and one Taiwan." A year later, the leaders of the parties exchanged direct messages for the first time in the history of relations.
On the shores of the strait, there was an atmosphere in which the bridges of economic and humanitarian ties were gradually drawn. The island began to drift gradually towards the mainland. From the middle of the first decade of the XXI century, Beijing confidently and consistently moved towards the peaceful annexation of the island, formally preserving the status quo and not putting pressure on the neighbor.
In 2015, the world, with bated breath, watched the first since the evacuation of the Kuomintang on the island meeting of the heads of republics. The leaders of the PRC and Taiwan Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou shook hands for 80 seconds. Xi, who became chairman of the PRC in 2012, had high expectations in building a dialogue with the island. In the early 2000s, he often met with representatives of the Taiwanese business, who appreciably benefited from the incentive measures that Xi introduced during the leadership of the seaside province of Fujian.
If Beijing has for a long time been pursuing a consistent policy aimed at "drawing" Taiwan into a big China, then within the Republic of China, the views on the prospects for rapprochement with the PRC were not at all the same. Growing up during the economic flowering of the youth did not have any illusions about the unification of the Chinese nation. New political forces appeared in the government, whose approach was even more radical.
In early 2015, the party "New Force" was created. The foundation for it was the youth movement "sunflowers": in March 2014, students occupied the parliament of Taiwan, demanding a review of the trade agreement with China. The access of Chinese companies to the island's economy was outraged by the youth. They was afraid that the Chinese presence would undermine the democratic foundations of the unrecognized state.
Points from the ruling party were taken away by the new policy of "detailing" the island. In schools, new history textbooks appeared, emphasizing the historical and cultural identity of the Taiwanese to the mainland of China. Conflicting was the decision of the authorities to forbid to designate the island as "Taiwan" in official documents and to replace the name with "The Republic of China".
The Kuomintang's reputation among the younger generation also spoiled the incident with the performance of a 16-year-old Taiwanese singer on South Korean TV under the Taiwanese flag. The show provoked a wave of criticism and condemnation by patriots in the Chinese Internet. Producers, probably in fear of losing the Chinese audience, released a video in which the girl trembles in a voice of apology. Of course, such a step did not strengthen the position of the Kuomintang before the elections, especially after the meeting of the head of the republic with Xi Jinping.
The electorate obviously did not appreciate such Kuomintang maneuvers, and in the presidential election in 2016, the candidate from the Democratic Progressive Party Tsai Inven won, becoming the first female president of the republic. Most of the seats in the parliament were taken for the first time not by the Kuomintang, but by the DPP.
The young generation of Taiwanese rejects the "one China" principle, but as long as political forces within the republic have decided how to perceive China, its soft power has already taken root in the minds of Taiwanese society. Despite the reluctance of the majority in the new government to go along with Beijing, Tsai Inven did not have any ways to retreat. Beijing secured its status as Taipei's main trading partner, and, in addition to the worsening economic situation on the island, falling wages and rising unemployment, more Taiwanese have begun to look toward the rapidly developing China.
Since 2014, world media have begun to write more about the "brain drain" from Taiwan to the mainland. Young people who do not always support the idea of association, after graduating from universities, are looking for work on the mainland. There is no exact data on the number of Taiwanese graduates working in the PRC territory, but according to different surveys conducted by university organizations and youth magazines, their number is about 60 percent.
Among the main reasons for becoming migrant workers are, first, higher wages: in Taiwan, the level of pay has barely risen since the late 1990s. Chinese companies often provide employees with a hostel and issue incentive allowances. Do not forget that the standard of living in China as a whole has grown dramatically in recent years, local companies are actively developing the niche of high technologies and need highly qualified personnel.
So Taiwan, with all the desire to remain independent, is in fact already inseparable from the mainland. As the main trading partner of Taipei, Beijing has at its disposal important levers of pressure on the island. The military superiority, which the Chinese nevertheless demonstrate to Taiwan more often after the election of 2016, does not even have to be said. Taiwan remained practically defenseless before the People's Liberation Army of China after the United States calculated the risks of supporting the island in the event of military actions in the strait. The results were disappointing for Taiwanese: a study in 2014 showed that the Americans do not support military assistance to the island in the event of a conflict.
We want to believe that military actions will not be one of the options for resolving the Taiwan issue. Moreover, it makes no sense to resort to weapons, when there is a resource for solving the problem only by the power of the word. In early January, the Marriott hotel network on its website listed Taiwan as a separate country. The world's chain of hotels also named the countries Hong Kong and Tibet, which for the Chinese authorities was absolutely unacceptable. The options for answering the question "where are you from?" were not simply asked to be removed from the site - the Shanghai police department launched an investigation into the violation of cybersecurity and the law on advertising. Representatives of Marriott had to publicly apologize and say that the company does not support separatism. However, the company can be understood, it regards mainland China as one of the largest markets. However, Taiwan's opinion about whether it would like to see itself in the list of countries, no one, of course, did not inquire, and officially the Republic of China did not react in any way.
Distinguished in the "support of separatism", according to the Chinese authorities, the brand of clothing ZARA, the Delta Airlines and the company-manufacturer of medical equipment Medtronic, also calling Taiwan a separate country on their sites. All of them, of course, apologized for the politically incorrect "reservations".
Suffer from politically incorrectness is not only large companies, who are afraid of losing revenue. Last year, a widely publicized story of American singer Katy Perry, who performed in Taiwan in a dress with sunflowers, turning into a Taiwan flag. Beijing did not believe that the singer did not know: sunflowers play an important symbolic role in Taiwan, and provinces do not have their own flags. Beijing banned Perry from entering the country, despite her sincere apologies and promises that she "will not take part in activities that could jeopardize the integrity of China." With such a soft power Beijing will hardly have to resort to tough.
Than the matter will come to an end
Will China decide whether to join the island by force or continue to slyly smile and brow at the direction of its "province" - it is difficult to predict. In case of an armed conflict, Taipei will have no one to count on. The most influential members of the United Nations, who very recently had a great influence on the alignment in the Asia-Pacific region, do not dare to contradict China, which, though trying to seem like a peace-loving panda, increasingly shows that dragon fang, then the tail.
Chinese official propaganda does its job more than qualitatively. Those who see Taiwan as independent are also called the Sentinels, the agents of the CIA, and neo-imperialists, not only in China.
But the island is not at all an antagonist of the mainland. The islanders, on the contrary, are accused of unwillingness to defend their freedom with fire and sword, as do, for example, the peoples in the countries of the Middle East. Today, only one of the sides is standing by the shore and, with arms outstretched, is waiting for a neighbor with weapons at the ready. And it's not the Taiwan side - in the case of the Chinese, the Communists, apparently, defeated the capitalists.