Politics changes things a lot. My political views are deep blue and very strongly Chinese reunificationist, but I personally think that Chen Shui-Bian shouldn’t resign and that all of this nonsense about recall is just a waste of time. This situation actually has left me with much more respect for Ma Ying-Jiou since it seems to me that he has resisted calls to be a part of this political theater as much as possible.
It’s also interesting that I seem to have become the most optimistic person in the room about Taiwan’s future. If you strip away some of the non-sense, Taiwan’s political system is actually a wonderful thing, and much of the reason that I would like greater contact and interaction between Taiwan and the Mainland is that I think Taiwan’s experience in creating a democratic system and trying hard to maintain it is going to have a good impact on Mainland politics. Geographically, Taiwan is very well situated to be the “gateway to Mainland China” and all that needs is a government that doesn’t act like an ostrich.
The main reason I’ve become such a strong supporter of Taiwan’s democratic system is that after two decades of screaming and close calls, we are *far* closer to Chinese reunification in 2007 than we were in 1987, and the ethnic timebomb that could have turned Taiwan into Northern Ireland has been defused.
Note I didn’t say close, I said closer. It’s still going to take another thirty to forty years to achieve political unification, but people are talking to each other, people are making money with each other, and there is a realistic path that will have it happen.
But from a personal point of view, it’s amazing the energy that I now have, now that I’m no longer worried that war is going to break out in the Taiwan Straits or that Taiwan is going to declare independence. People have worked out a set of understandings that are acceptable to Beijing, Washington, and most people on Taiwan that will get us through the next generation, and at that point what happens there, happens there.