How Taiwan Can Upstage China
Image Credit: Flickr / Daymin

How Taiwan Can Upstage China

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135 comments

The recent confrontations in the South China Sea between China, Vietnam and the Philippines, and the subsequent street demonstrations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are an unwelcome reminder that long simmering tensions in the waters off Southeast Asia could boil over at any time.

The past month has seen diplomats and officials in Beijing, Hanoi and Manila engage in a round of accusations, protests and denials, with even usually quiet Singapore prompted to call on China to clarify its territorial claims.

Taiwan, meanwhile, reiterated its position, emphasizing its sovereignty over the contested territory. According to a June 15 statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan noted ‘that the Nansha Islands, the Shisha Islands, the Chungsha Islands and the Tungsha Islands, as well as their surrounding waters, sea beds and subsoil are all an inherent part of the territory of the Republic of China (Taiwan).’ Moreover, on June 22, as reported by Channel News Asia, Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy C.Y. Yang spoke of increasing military patrols on Taiwan-held islands.

Odd as it may seem given their history of animosity, the South China Sea territorial claims of the governments of China and Taiwan are nearly identical. Both the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China base their modern day claims on the so-called ‘nine-dotted’ or ‘U-shaped’ line visible on maps issued by the then Nanjing-based Republic of China government in 1947.

In the years since 1947, Taiwan has issued periodic statements regarding its claims. In 1993, it asserted sovereignty over the bulk of the South China Sea, including the Spratly, Pratas, and Paracel islands. In 1995, Taipei both reiterated its claim to the ‘U-shaped line’ and initiated construction on Itu Aba Island (Tai Ping Tao) in the Spratlys despite longstanding territorial claims to that tiny island by the Philippines and Vietnam as well as China.

The current Taiwanese position hasn’t changed in any fundamental way in the years since 1947, despite both Taiwan and the region having evolved dramatically in that time.

But hewing to the nine-dotted line claim of 1947 in 2011 imposes a needless liability on modern day Taiwan. Taiwan needs good relations with its Southeast Asian neighbours. Democratic Taiwan wants to, as it should, be perceived as a responsible international actor both in Asia and globally. The excessive maritime claims embodied by the 1947 declaration, however, fly in the face of this. Taipei’s continued adherence to China’s maritime territorial claims is therefore inimical to Taiwan’s long-term regional and international interests.

By holding to outdated and legally untenable claims, Taiwan risks alienating its ASEAN neighbours while its already deep economic ties to them continue to grow. By siding with Beijing on the excessive maritime claims inherited from 1947, an already isolated Taipei risks alienating neighbours that are increasingly wary of China, and that could potentially become more sympathetic to Taiwan.

Taiwan has now, in the choppy waters of the South China Sea, an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to international harmony and to being a constructive force for regional stability. Taipei ought to modify its maritime territorial claims in a manner that’s both more acceptable to its Southeast Asian neighbours, and in accordance with international law.

Taiwan would be wise to adopt a modified claim based on the 200 nautical mile limit as enunciated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in its definition of exclusive economic zones. By adopting this stance, Taipei would be able to maintain a claim to a substantial portion of the South China Sea while stepping back from those territorial claims that are particularly aggressive, ambitious and intellectually offensive to its neighbours. Doing so would also bring Taipei’s positions – unlike those of Beijing – into compliance with international law and the UNCLOS.

Comments
135
LimLim
April 27, 2012 at 06:26

@The_Observer

OK OK We all get it, South China sea is marked Chinese in Han Dynasty maps!

Can you provide a map of that period so that we can check if Taiwan, Tibet, Eastern Turkestan, Southern Mongolia, Mandchuria, Yunnan,… are also included in Han China map?

If some historian can provide a document from a given period of China history, and that Taiwan or Tibet or not in (and that will be very easy to find), will you give them independence then?

David Li
July 29, 2011 at 09:05

John Chan advocates the SEA nations transfer recognition from Beijing to Taiwan.
He is very naive to advocate such a step.Or he is smart to deflect problems afflicting Taiwan at the moment. Bear in mind most SEA countries have strong trade ties with China.
As for the Taiwan problem it was created by the US and a face saving way must be found for it to relinquish itself of the current situation. My guess is Taiwan Independence is a no brainer although US advocates and overseas Taiwanes want it.The Tiwanese on Taiwan will have to bear the consequences of such an act.

gunfire
July 28, 2011 at 20:13

The problem of Taiwan will be solved when the PLA is able to call the US bluff to defend it. Taiwan cannot escape China’s shadow and the the US is and wont be able to defend it forever.
The PLA aint seeking parity with the US. There is no need for that. All they is nee is throw a spanner in the US decision making process and we shall see.

typhoonq`
July 25, 2011 at 22:28

John Chan,

Observer is a Vietnamese. From my observation, he is ever ready to defence Vietnam interest and he always harp on his own fantasy “Vietnam has beaten China in the 1979 Border war by just deploying their Vietnamese Militia Forces at the Battle Front”

smarter guy
July 25, 2011 at 14:22

Are you really from Taiwan?

I can not believe that one people from taiwan can agree to give South China sea to SEA? Do you love Taiwan? Do you know that Taiwan have troops in the biggest island in South China Sea after WWWii.

What is your logic to give up the islands? It sounds as if you hate yourself, you hate your skin color, you hate your language and you hate your culture. Who are you?

talk again
July 25, 2011 at 14:11

“Taiwan’s South China Sea claims are outdated.” – It is ridiculous idea. Taiwan’s claims are based on the country’s history and the legal files signed to ceasefire of WWWII. If you denied the claims, you deny all the legal system established after WWWII.
What you want is to ask Taiwan to give up its benefit/rights and to hurt the mainland of china. You do not care about the rights/benefits of Taiwan. You just use Taiwan as your tool. No, not your tool. I believe you also take care your tool. Could you believe Taiwanese believe your “smart” idea? Or you think Taiwanese have lower IQ than yours?
By the way, if some of your friend suggest you to send your wife to do some ‘PR job’ with your boss to beat your opponent in your job and get some benefit for your promotion, I suggest that you can not accept this suggestion. It is based on the same logic. Just a kidding.
If you fought the communist, I do not care about it. But obviously, you have a pathetic knowledge about the Chinese history and culture. And also you do not know the difference between the country and the governments. And what you see the issue is lack foresight.
Let me teach you some knowledge:1) China have a long history and has different names in its history. over 100 years ago, it called Dynasty Qing; Over 62 years ago, it called Republic of China; Now there have 2 names : Republic of china and People’s Republic of china which means there have 2 governments and the civil war do not cease. We do not know how we can call China after China re-unite in the future. There still have chances for China to become a democratic country with mainland and taiwan united.You have to respect Chinese. Learn more historic and geography knowledge and Hide your ignorance and arrogant attitude. it is good for you.
2) If you do not care about your “friend”, your friend will not care about you. Until now, many Chinese still thanks for US to help them to fight Japanese invasion in WWWII. When we talk about TsingHua University, the No.1 university in China, we all know that it is US, who refund the money and help us to established it.
3) Please change your cold-war style thoughts. China is not the same as the Soviet Union. Chinese economy is part of the global economy. China has weak military and is only one not-united big country. China have over 300 millions people lived in poverty condition. In the next 100 years, China have to focus on its inner problem, such as poverty and democracy. if US CAN HELP CHINA TO GET PROGRESS IN POVERTY AND DEMOCRACY PROBLEMS, the world will have better future and you will also make more money. Do not do outdated cold-war style things. There is no steel curtain between China and the West countries. Of course you do not make it.
4) Also, when you talk about Chinese, you have to learn, there have 4 kinds of Passports in Great China region and over 30 millions Chinese living overseas who mostly are not Chinese citizens.
So Here are my suggestion:
If you want to acquire long-term benefit in Asia Pacific region for your country, you have to make a stable basement with friendship. Those are :1) Respect every country and region in this area;2) help China mainland turn to democratic way and support taiwan democracy system development.3) do not light a fire between China and SouthEast Asia countries. It will at last hurt your country too although you maybe can get some tactical advantages in short term.From human history, we all know the small country at last will be victims under the polices of big countries. Please help those small countries and do not use them as some one-time tools.
BE SMARTER, BE COOL!!!

an smarter guy
July 25, 2011 at 05:23

“Taiwan’s South China Sea claims are outdated.” – It is ridiculous idea. Taiwan’s claims are based on the country’s history and the legal files signed to ceasefire of WWWII. If you denied the claims, you deny all the legal system established after WWWII.

What you want is to ask Taiwan to give up its benefit/rights and to hurt the mainland of china. You do not care about the rights/benefits of Taiwan. You just use Taiwan as your tool. No, not your tool. I believe you also take care your tool. Could you believe Taiwanese believe your stupid idea? Or you think Taiwanese have lower IQ than yours?

By the way, if some of your friend suggest you to send your wife to do some ‘PR job’ with your boss to beat your opponent in your job and get some benefit for your promotion, I suggest that you can not accept this suggestion. It is based on the same logic. Just a kidding!

If you fought the communist, I do not care about it. But obviously, you have a pathetic knowledge about the Chinese history and culture. And also you do not know the difference between the country and the government. And what you see the issue is lack foresight.

Let me teach you some knowledge:
1) China have a long history and has different names in its history. over 100 years ago, it called Dynasty Qing; Over 62 years ago, it called Republic of China; Now there have 2 names : Republic of china and People’s Republic of china which means there have 2 governments and the civil war do not cease. We do not know how we can call China after China re-unite in the future. There still have chances for China to become a democratic country with mainland and taiwan united.
You have to respect Chinese. Learn more historic and geography knowledge and Hide your ignorance and arrogant attitude. it is good for you.

2) If you do not care about your “friend”, your friend will not care about you. Until now, many Chinese still thanks for US to help them to fight Japanese invasion in WWWII. When we talk about TsingHua University, the No.1 university in China, we all know that it is US, who refund the money and help us to established it.

3) Please change your cold-war style thoughts. China is not the same as the Soviet Union. Chinese economy is part of the global economy. China has weak military and is only one not-united big country. China have over 300 millions people lived in poverty condition. In the next 100 years, I believe that china need to focus on its inner problem, such as poverty and democracy. if US CAN HELP CHINA TO GET PROGRESS IN POVERTY AND DEMOCRACY PROBLEMS, the world will have better future and you will also make more money. Do not do stupid cold-war style things. There is no steel curtain between China and the West countries.

4) Also, when you talk about Chinese, you have to learn, there have 4 kinds of Passports in Great China region and over 30 millions Chinese living overseas who mostly are not Chinese citizens.

So Here are my suggestion:

If you want to acquire long-term benefit in Asia Pacific region for your country, you have to make a stable basement with friendship. That is :
1) Respect every country and region in this area;
2) help China mainland turn to democratic way and support taiwan democracy system development.
3) do not light a fire between China and SouthEast Asia countries. It will at last hurt your country too although you maybe can get some tactical advantages.
From history, we all know the small country at last will be victims under the polices of big countries.

BE SMARTER, BE COOL!!!

Old scholar from HK
July 24, 2011 at 03:36

Beijing should thank Pearson for giving it a good excuse to reunify Taiwan by force, sidestepping its worries about “hurting national feelings” of the Chinese living on Taiwan if its leaders forsake their duties to defend the country’s territories. What would Taiwan gain by the so-called “up-staging” intentions which Pearson proposes? Politicians in Taiwan may embrace democracy as it gives them the chance to be elected presidents if they so wish. Who wants to be the president of an island if Beijing would be so provoked that it would take it by force? Perhaps Pearson should go there and run for president.

Michael
July 17, 2011 at 10:16

The Philippines is a nation corrupt to soul with never ending poverty and yet you want to spend more on military weapons??? LOL

Cyrus
July 15, 2011 at 20:47

It would depend on their interest if it will help in their foreign policy aims then yes. If not then NO.

Cyrus
July 15, 2011 at 06:59

Oh my the rhetoric.

We are a sovereign state and though all sovereign state must all bow down to a hegemon. We choose the United States, we are not in a dreamland here where in the Kant ideology of a International Community. We are in reality wherein Hobbes Hegemon is present and it is in the interest of our external defense to side with the United States. We are after all fighting an insurgency and why the Mutual Defense Pact is a God Send as it allows us to look into internal security rather than trivialize about external defense.

Now since the Communist Insurgency is in no danger of gaining ground. It cannot seek to regain the threat and status it held during the Marcos Dictatorship we can again slowly build our external capabilities. Thus the needs for jets and Naval Patrol ships.

Sinodefender
July 13, 2011 at 05:34

Once Taiwan is united with her Han brothers then the missiles won’t be a problem…

Sinodefender
July 13, 2011 at 05:30

So history records are not to be trusted? What about all those papers that people use for inheritance should they all be disregarded. I agree the world’s oceans should be shared since no one lives in them…

Sinodefender
July 13, 2011 at 05:26

A quagmire has been reached since Taiwan is not part of the UN do they have to abide to UNCLOS?

Observer
July 12, 2011 at 14:18

ozivan – you have NOT provide anything to backup your statements. I am still waiting, such as your allegation that I was someone else in this forum.

Just as I am still waiting for the “historic evidences” from John Chan. LMAO.

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