Twofish's Blog

June 26, 2006

Why I’m spending less time posting about Taiwan on Wikipedia

Filed under: china, wikipedia — twofish @ 5:19 am

In my alternate ego (Roadrunner) I used to spend a huge amount of time posting about Taiwan on Wikipedia.  I don't do this as much and the reason might be interesting.

The reason I posted so much in the first place was to counter the strategy of Taiwan independence supporters.  As of 2003, much of their strategy was to make the idea of "Taiwan is not part of China" seem like the natural situation, and that anyone who questioned this idea was obviously delusional.  The idea behind this is that if everyone said "Taiwan is not part of China" and believed that this was the opinion of people on Taiwan, then Taiwan independence could then at some point "normalize" (their term) the situation, officially declare independence, and that would be the end of that.

You can see in this situation, where words become important.  Since I didn't (and still don't) agree to their political aims, I felt that I had to do what I could to counter their effort, and that meant posting on Wikipedia.

But the reason I don't do this any more is that this strategy has fallen apart for two reasons….

1)  Beijing became less stupid.  For this strategy to work, Taiwan independence supporters had to present a stark choice, if you didn't support Taiwan independence then obviously you must support Taiwan being part of the PRC and unification.  Since most people on Taiwan don't support immediate unification and don't think of Taiwan as part of the PRC, ergo they most support Taiwan independence.

This logic fell apart the moment Hu Jintao and Lien Chan shook hands.  At that point, "one China" no longer became synonymous with "Taiwan is part of the PRC" or "immediate unification" and the Taiwan independence logic fell apart.  Once you could articulate a political position that was neither "Taiwan is independent of China" nor "Taiwan is part of the PRC" you find that this position is pretty attractive to a many people on Taiwan.

2) Word games have their limits.  It also became obvious around mid to late-2005, that US support for Taiwan had its limits and the Chen Shui-Bian was testing those limits.  Ultimately what matters is not word games, but under what conditions the US would deploy the Seventh Fleet to save Taiwan, and the US has made it clear that US support for Taiwan is conditional on good behavior by Taiwan, and that Taiwan cannot expect to kick Beijing and expect a US bailout.  If you look at the diplomatic verbage, it became more and more obvious around 2005 and 2006, that the US State Department was becoming increasingly tired of the word games that Chen Shui-Bian was playing.

So my assessment is that Taiwan independence has lost this round, and there is no need for me to spend my time worrying much about the definition of China.  Also, it is no longer the case that anyone who disagrees with the language and assumptions of the Taiwan independence movement is considered "insane" so I'm spending less time defending my sanity.
As far as what the "China" page on Wikipedia is going to look like.  I'm going to give it a few years, but I suspect that the result will imposed from the outside.  If Ma Ying-Jeou gets elected as President in 2008, then I strongly suspect that sometime between 2008 and 2012, there is going to be some consensus statement between Beijing and Taipei over exactly what "China" means and at that point we can change the Wikipedia page to reflect that.



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