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The Future and Stability of Taiwan’s Independence Essay


Introduction

For decades now, Taiwan’s international status has been in limbo. The Taipei’s government, which in the past represented China in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), currently does not enjoy a lot of support. Only around twenty diplomats continue supporting the government.

Consequently, the government finds it hard to gain recognition in the international arena. Today, very few states recognise Taiwan as an autonomous country (Chu 2004). However, Taiwan has been self-governed for a long time and has enjoyed a democratic government for over fifteen years.

Relative to China, Taiwan enjoys what it refers to as the status quo, a situation that paves room for flexibility, but curtails the likelihood of Taiwan becoming a sovereign state. Currently, Taiwan’s condition does not appear too complex. The truce it established with china has allowed it to continue with its activities without interferences.

Furthermore, Taiwan partakes in numerous international organisations. For instance, the country became a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2002. Besides, in 2009, the country became an observer in the World Health Organisation (WHO) (Hickey 2011). This paper will focus on the future of Taiwan’s independence in ten years and give some of the factors that affect the stability of Taiwan’s independence.

The issue of independence

Since early 1990s, the call for Taiwan’s democratisation stirred the subject about the identity of the Republic of China (Crane 2006). It unlocked the political continuum for parties that do not support the belief that the Republic of China stands for China’s government, but which posits that Taiwan is autonomous with a different national identity from China.

In other words, the call for democratisation led to disagreement about the future of Taiwan as a sovereign state. These developments made it hard for Taiwan to hold public referenda, which could have helped the state to acquire its independence. Nevertheless, even if Taiwan gained independence, either as Taiwan or as the Republic of China, it would be very hard for it to change its international status (Hickey 2011).

The state would only participate fully in the international affairs if other countries agreed to recognise it as a sovereign state. By declaring itself as a sovereign state, the move would not change the way other countries perceived it. Moreover, it would harm its relationship with numerous countries, especially those that recognise China as the only sovereign state in the region.

Most of the superpowers have openly expressed their opposition to the separation of Taiwan from China. For instance, the United States has heavily invested in promoting good ties with China. Therefore, the United States does all it can to ensure that it discourages any move by Taiwan to gain its independence, no matter how Taiwan tries to disguise its intentions (Ross 2002).

For instance, in 2008, the United States opposed the referenda that sought to see Taiwan become a member of the United Nations (Lowther 2010). It is evident that in the next ten years, it will be hard for Taiwan to gain independence due to pressure from the international community.

For Taiwan to continue enjoying a cordial relationship with other countries, it will have to nurture and promote a peaceful co-existence with China as advocated by most of the influential countries.

No possibility for unification

Unification with China would help in defining Taiwan’s status in global affairs. Nevertheless, chances of unification between the two are minimal. Among all the available options for Taiwan, unification is treated as the last result.

In an independent society, the move to embrace unification would only be decided by the Taiwanese people, who largely opt to keep the option pending and seek other alternatives (Kastner 2006).

Nevertheless, it is hard to rule out that the two countries might end up unifying in the near future. There is a high chance that Taiwan may drop its call for independence in the next ten years if it continues to experience pressure from China and if it is promised that the unification will pave room for it to continue enjoying its current autonomy (Kastner 2006).

Nevertheless, currently, no plans are underway to facilitate this move, and the Taiwanese population strongly opposes chances of union between China and Taiwan.

Taiwanese voters oppose the claim by the Chinese government that the union would pave room for a “one state, two systems” policy, which would ensure that Taiwan maintains its current autonomy and probably help Taiwan take part in global organisations even though it is not a state member.

Some scholars claim that even if the two countries agreed on the unification, the move would only benefit the two countries and would have no benefit to the world (Kastner 2006). The two countries would come up with a stronger economy, since most of the economic resources that are currently used in safeguarding their divergent policies would be used in enhancing the economy.

Status quo as the ultimate solution

Rather than fighting to gain independence, there are high chances that Taiwan will fight to maintain the status quo for the next ten years. In late 1980s, Taiwan lost the majority of its diplomatic allies. Furthermore, it was scrapped from the international organisations. This made it hard for Taiwan to reflect anywhere on the political map (Tsang 2006).

Therefore, to ensure that it reflected on the political map, the Taiwanese government had to come up with creative strategies. Lee Teng-hui’s regime came up with the notion of “flexible” or practical diplomacy that claimed that if it were not possible for Taiwan to have formal relationships with other states, then the country would work towards entertaining considerable relations (Tsang 2006).

This meant that Taiwan would work towards establishing close ties with other countries in the absence of diplomatic recognition. In addition, the country had to look for measures to help it participate in global organisations by using different names to suit the demands of the organisations.

All these measures sought to help Taiwan maintain its status quo in the eyes of other countries. The current pressures from global organisations and influential nations imply that, it will be hard for Taiwan to continue fighting for its separation (Tsang 2006). Instead, the next ten years will see Taiwan struggling to maintain its status quo as the only strategy for its survival both politically and economically.

After years of wrangles between China and Taiwan, President Ying-jeou stated that Taiwan was not ready for unification. Besides, he claimed that his country would no longer fight for independence and his government would cease applying force (Tucker 2007).

The move led to stability in the region and economic ties between the two countries became strong. Since then, the two countries have engaged in numerous government-to-government talks and significantly enhanced the association between the Chinese and Taiwanese population. Taiwan has been the major beneficiary of this close relationship. The state’s economy has strongly improved.

As china is opposed to any call for independence and is ready to use its military powers to ensure that Taiwan does not gain independence, Taiwan has no feasible alternative, but to maintain the status quo (Tucker 2007). This would be the only way that Taiwan would continue enjoying its ties with China.

Taiwan will definitely have to come up with a solution to the current challenges facing it on matters to do with independence and self-determination (Tucker 2007). Most of the Taiwanese believe that the move to call for independence is not misguided. Nevertheless, they feel that the move would jeopardise their close relations with the international community.

Hence, currently, Taiwan is not only facing pressure from the international community, but it is also facing immense internal political disagreements. Some of the Taiwanese feel that even though they need to be independent, the independence will do more harm than good to them.

Hence, they prefer maintaining the status quo since it helps in maintaining the country’s good reputation in the international arena (Wang 2010). Currently, Taiwan is a major attraction to the Chinese people.

Hence, Taiwanese citizens do not want to ruin this relation. Most probably, in the next ten years Taiwan will continually drop its desire to become independent and work on enhancing its relations with China while maintaining its status.

For a long time, Taiwan has been using different names to continue working with international organisations. Its absence in such organisations would be detrimental to its economy. On the other hand, the organisations would not allow it use a name that is similar or contradicts with that used by China (Hickey 2011).

In a bid to ensure that it remains as a member in most of the international organisations, Taiwan has continuously kept on changing its name whenever it realises that the existing name would contradict or interfere with the one used by People’s Republic of China.

The main reason why most of the international bodies fail to support Taiwan’s call for independence is the influence that China has in the global economy (Hickey 2011). Supporting Taiwan would lead to China withdrawing all the support it extends to international organisations. In return, this would incapacitate them making it hard for the organisations to manage their operations.

In this view, for Taiwan to ensure that it continues participating in global organisations, it has to drop its call for independence. Consequently, the possibility of Taiwan gaining independence in the next ten years is minimal (Crane 2006). Hence, Taiwan will only strive to maintain the status quo so that it can continue enjoying its current relations with international organisations.

While Taiwan continues struggling to gain independence, it will be hard to gain it since it can only do that by negotiating with China.

With most of the world states opting to support China due to its international influence, Taiwan is left with no state to turn to for support, in case it collides with China (Crane 2006). China is not likely to heed to these demands in the near future implying that it is hard for Taiwan to gain independence in the next ten years.

Factors that affect the stability of Taiwan’s independence

One of the factors that destabilise Taiwan’s independence is the “Anti-secession Law” signed by China in 2005. According to this law, the People’s Republic of China declared that it would use non-peaceful measures and ensure that Taiwan does not detach itself from China (Hickey 2011).

Hence, this declaration destabilises the move by Taiwan to call for secession since it fears that China might attack it. Taiwan is weaker in terms of military powers relative to China. Hence, it would be hard for Taiwan to defend itself from china. In addition, most of the influential countries are against the secession calls.

Failure to gain support from the international community also makes it hard for the country to demand its independence. For instance, the United States is opposed to the call since most of its military forces are involved in other battlefields. Hence, it would be hard to rescue Taiwan from any attacks.

Moreover, the existing laws that define the relations between Taiwan and the United States do not commit the United States to protecting Taiwan. They only give the United States an option to protect Taiwan in case of any incursion.

An internal political wrangle in Taiwan is another factor that destabilises its independence. In as much as Taiwanese are calling for independence, there are some people within the country that do not approve this move (Chao 2003). Those opposed to the call claim that calling for secession would affect the country’s young economy, and ruin its current relationship with China and other global countries.

Besides, they believe that the move would lead to the country suffering from disfavour from the international community. This disunity among the Taiwanese makes it hard for the country to pursue its goals with one voice. The divisions weaken the call for secession from the People’s Republic of China (Carpenter 2006).

After the 2000 presidential elections, there emerged two opposing forces in Taiwan. The Pan-Green and the Pan-Blue supported the Taiwanese identity and the Chinese identity respectively. The two forces destabilised the effort by the country to fight for its independence.

The Pan-Green supporters claimed that there was an imbalanced economic dependence on China (Carpenter 2006). They warned that such an economic dependence might jeopardise Taiwan’s national security. Consequently, the Pan-Green politicians started looking for support from individuals that did not benefit from the economic ties between China and Taiwan.

On the other hand, the Pan-Blue politicians asserted that the Taiwan-China economic relations would have positive effects on the country’s economy. Hence, they sought the support of individuals that benefited from the economic ties. Since then, the country has been split between these two groups of politicians (Carpenter 2006).

While one of the groups supports the unification, the other one calls for separation. It is hard for the country to speak in one voice thus making it hard for people to make an informed decision on whether to advocate for independence or not.

The cost of seceding from China is high for Taiwan. The current relationship with China allows Taiwan to enjoy a cordial relationship with the international community. Most of the countries acknowledge the one-China Principle; hence, if Taiwan happens to declare itself as a sovereign state and cuts its relationship with China, there are high possibilities that the international community would stop associating with it (Chao 2003).

The pursuit for the one-China policy destabilises the Taiwan’s independence. Gaining independence would push most of the nations that are members of the international community to stop supporting the country financially. Hence, the move would render Taiwan economically handicapped making it had for it to manage its operations.

Furthermore, China supports Taiwan financially, which destabilises Taiwan’s independence since Taiwan fears that it would lose this support upon becoming independent. These economic costs associated with independence compel Taiwan to abandon its independence calls (Wang 2010). Rather, the country uses other methods to ensure that it develops its economy to a self-reliant level.

Today, China is under no pressure from the international community to assist Taiwan to gain its independence. Hence, China uses its influence to destabilise the fight for independence in Taiwan. China uses its power to lure other countries into opposing the Taiwan’s call for independence (Barbieri 2003).

As Taiwan seeks to enhance its membership in the international organisations, it faces stiff challenges from China, which has significant influence on most of the organisations.

China uses its influence to ensure that other member states compel Taiwan to compromise on some of its conditions. The influence from China has affected the stability of Taiwan’s independence, and thus Taiwan has been forced to ensure that it maintains the status quo to enjoy cordial relationship with international organisations.

Conclusion

For decades now, the Taiwan’s international status has faced immense challenges. Unlike in the past when the Taiwanese government represented China, today the international community does not recognise this government. Currently, Taiwan enjoys what it refers to as the status quo, which allows it to enjoy numerous privileges in the international arena and manage its affairs.

However, the status quo does not allow the country to gain full independence. Since 1990s, Taiwan came up with the issue of democratisation, which sought to help the Taiwan Strait break away from the mainland China. However, the call for independence led to Taiwan facing opposition from other countries that advocated for the one-China policy.

In a bid to ensure that Taiwan continues enjoying its interaction with the international community, some parties call for unification. However, the Taiwan citizens are against unification, thus leaving it as the last option. Taiwan is not likely to achieve its independence in the next ten years. Instead, the country will continue working on maintaining the status quo to help it gain financial support from the international community.

Since President Ying-jeou called for Taiwan to maintain the status quo, the country has enjoyed a good relationship not only with China, but also with other global states. China has vowed to use its political and military powers to ensure that Taiwan does not gain independence.

Hence, the fear of being attacked by China may hamper Taiwan’s ability to gain independence in the next ten years, thus opting to maintain the status quo. Numerous factors affect the stability of Taiwan’s independence including the anti secession law signed by China in 2005.

The law gives China the power to use military means to ensure that Taiwan does not gain independence. Another factor is the internal political wrangles among the different groups of politicians. While the Pan-Green group calls for secession, the Pan-Blue calls for unification thus hampering the collective efforts to pursue independence.

Reference List

Barbieri, K 2003, ‘Economic Interdependence: A Path to Peace or a Source of Interstate Conflict?’ Journal of Peace Research, vol. 33 no. 1, pp. 29-49.

Carpenter, T 2006, America’s Coming War with China: A Collision Course over Taiwan, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Chao, C 2003, ‘Will Economic Integration between Mainland China and Taiwan Lead to a Congenial Political Culture’, Asian Survey, vol. 43 no. 2, pp. 280-304.

Chu, Y 2004, Taiwan’s National Identity Politics and the Prospect of Cross-Strait Relations’, Asian Survey, vol. 44 no. 4, pp. 497-503.

Crane, G 2006, ‘China and Taiwan: Not Yet ‘Greater China’, International Affairs, vol. 69 no. 4, pp. 705-723.

Hickey, D 2011, ‘Rapprochement between Taiwan and the Chinese Mainland: implications for American foreign policy’, Journal of Contemporary China, vol. 20 no. 69, pp. 233-245.

Kastner, S 2006, ‘Does Economic Integration Across the Taiwan Strait Make Military Conflict Less Likely’, Journal of East Asian Studies, vol. 6, pp. 319-346.

Lowther, W 2010, US, PRC discussing ways for Taiwan to join world bodies, <http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/print/2010/12/09/2003490463>

Ross, R 2002, ‘Navigating the Taiwan Strait: Deterrence, Escalation Dominance, and US-China Relations’, International Security, vol. 27 no. 2, pp. 48-85.

Tsang, S 2006, If China Attacks Taiwan: Military Strategy, Politics and Economics, Routledge, London.

Tucker, N 2007, ‘If Taiwan Chooses Unification, Should the United States Care’, The Washington Quarterly, vol. 25 no. 3, pp. 21-24.

Wang, Y 2010, ‘China’s Growing Strength, Taiwan’s Diminishing Options’, Taiwan-U.S. Quarterly Analysis, vol. 23 no. 3, pp. 34-47.

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Carson, C. (2019, December 11). The Future and Stability of Taiwan’s Independence [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-future-and-stability-of-taiwans-independence/

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Carson, Crystal. "The Future and Stability of Taiwan’s Independence." IvyPanda, 11 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/the-future-and-stability-of-taiwans-independence/.

1. Crystal Carson. "The Future and Stability of Taiwan’s Independence." IvyPanda (blog), December 11, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-future-and-stability-of-taiwans-independence/.


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Carson, Crystal. "The Future and Stability of Taiwan’s Independence." IvyPanda (blog), December 11, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-future-and-stability-of-taiwans-independence/.

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Carson, Crystal. 2019. "The Future and Stability of Taiwan’s Independence." IvyPanda (blog), December 11, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-future-and-stability-of-taiwans-independence/.

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Carson, C. (2019) 'The Future and Stability of Taiwan’s Independence'. IvyPanda, 11 December.

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