Well, in my own opinion, definitely yes. And I will now present my reasoning.

The island of Taiwan has always been occupied by China since the 1700's, except for a time when Japan took over during the 1900's.

When the Nationalists were defeated by the communists in 1949, the Nationalists stole all the gold in the treasury, took everything possibly of value (including works of art and priceless relics) and fled to the island of Taiwan.

Now the communists was just about to chase after them because of all the atrocities Chiang Kai-shek committed to the communists in his purges in the 1930's, where thousands of communist sympathizers were tortured and murdered. But in came the USA. Under the Truman Doctrine, they felt obliged to protect the Nationalists', even though they were extremely corrupt and had a wide trail of human rights abuses.

So under the comfortable umbrella of American protection, the Nationalists felt safe enough to abuse their rather fragile position. Lucky for them China sank into a period of insanity in the 1950's until the 1970's.

You see, if the US decided at any time to withdraw their protection and acknowledge the communist government as the true power in China (which they did not do until the 1970's for political reasons), the Nationalists would be bombed into the next century and Taiwan rightfully become part of China again. But due to the US protection, Taiwan laughed and talked about declaring independence.

Declaring independence would no doubt will bring the full wrath of China down upon Taiwan, because China obviously knows that the US would not sacrifice millions of American lives over a measly little island in Asia. China is an acknowledged nuclear power if multiple warhead ICBM strike capabilities.

Now, why do I believe Taiwan belongs to China? Because the Nationalists were defeated fair and square despite the help they received from America and they fled to Taiwan, knowing the US would protect their sorry asses.

They left a wide trail of corruption, torture and murder behind them. Once they got to Taiwan they continued that policy on the natives of Taiwan, forbidding them to speak their native langauge and forcing them to speak Mandarin or suffer severe punishment.

The Nationalist Party still exists because of the whim of the American government. Right now, the US owns Taiwan. Not the Taiwanese government. As soon as the US withdraws their umbrella of protection, China will return to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

China has been in strife for the past one thousand years. The Chinese people are one. Why continue fighting for some outdated ideological rivalry? Make peace already. Thank you.

Response 1:

There is no peace right now. The communist government is still technically in a state of war between the Nationalists, much as North Korea and South Korea are.

And no, they didn't just start wanting it now. They wanted it in 1949, just as they do now. It is about claiming what was yours and was stolen. Taiwan was a barren island. They protected it for political reasons, just as they do now. Taiwan could be a wasteland and China would still want it back.

Response 2: The Americans started the rebellion. The corrupt Nationalists were the people in power originally, the communists were the rebels. The communists seized control of China and the Nationalists stole a part of China so they can preserve the nominal ownership of China under US protection. Big difference to the American Revolution. This isn't a rebellion because they didn't rebel. They merely stole a piece of land from the rightful owners of that land and deluded themselves into thinking that they still ruled China. Simple as that.

Response 3: The corruption of the communist government is beside the point, in truth, they were quite clean until the late 1960's. And about the right to exercise defiance to "hostile rule", yes that right can be exercised.

Taiwan does not have the power to stop it. The USA does. The voters would have voted differently if the US protection umbrella wasn't so certain. The Nationalist government's existence in Taiwan is based on one assumption. That China is afraid to take on the US. As long as that is true, Taiwan can act big and declare anything. The truth is, Taiwan is largely financially dependent on China, and by declaring independence, they have crossed the line. The US would be unwillingly commit to the conflict if that happens, and China would take Taiwan.

Taiwan is too cocky anyways. Never liked them.

Response 4: No, America would not back Taiwan in the case of independence. They wouldn't dare because China would immediately advance to take Taiwan, and the US would not dare to intervene this time because China is not a little country like Yugoslavia. Besides, there is too much trade going on right now and the pro-China members of Congress would stop any action.

Don't say there are strong nativist setiments in Taiwan. Natives there don't forget that the Nationalists slaughtered them by the dozen not too long ago.

And no, if China invaded, it would spank Taiwan. The Chinese navy is a heck of a lot better than you might think, and Taiwan has no air force. It would be a quick and crushing blow, not a protracted war.

Those last few sentences really don't mesh with the rest of your points. If you are so much for peace, why arent you suggesting the Chinese just forget about Taiwan and let the bastards declare independence? The fact is, the Chinese had no intentions towards Taiwan originally because it was as poorly off as China itself. It was completely insignificant, economically and politically. They were perfectly willing to let the nationalists rot in squalor on their little island.

The reason they want it all of a sudden is that Taiwan has become a newly industrialized country, with a strong semiconductor industry and powerful trading partners. If this were about revenge on the nationalists, mainland China could have crushed them long ago. Clamoring for vengeance 50 years later, when you haven't acted on it earlier, just makes you look like a lunatic.

The US started off protecting Taiwan because they backed the nationalists. The only real reason we continue to do so is the same reason the Chinese want the island. By providing military protection, we are placed in a position to demand any trade concessions we wish, while also keeping trade routes for valuable semiconductors open (something that is by no means assured if China were to take over).
Dad took in a refugee Mr Loo, from Red China who cooked wonderful meals for us , I loved him with all my little-girl heart. Frenziedly running over to shut off the radio when the Chinese National Anthem played, I saw the cold sweat on Mr. Loo's face. One can appreciate the irony he must have felt serving a luncheon in our home for Madam Chiang Kai-Shek.
(From his reaction one truly expected horns to be growing out of her head, but she was very nice.)

My sister and I befriended two girls named Ola and Tanya. They lived behind us in the Little American Village, Looking back, the man and woman they lived with ...he was a retired General (Taiwanese?) with a wooden leg, his wife dished out pickled watermelon rinds and candy similar to the white rabbit candy of today. Tanya and I would walk home through rice paddies where water buffalo slowly plodded across the humid fields, chewing salted seeds from a small store (more like a shack) we stopped at on the way home from the Taipei American School

After declassification, my father told us that these two girls were the children of the Dalai Lama . They were sheltered there under the protection of the US Government after escaping the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

These are childhood memories from that time. We were pretty oblivious, as young children are, of the immense history that was going on at the time.

We were taught in school there that Taiwan was neutral and independent of China at the time.

Oh my!! I think I'm in the middle of a political debate!

Well, in my own opinion, definitely no. And I will now present my reasoning.

The colonies of America have always been occupied by Britain since the 1600's.

When the Americans were defeated by the British in New England and New York in the mid-1770s, the Americans stole all the ammo and money they could and fled to Philadelphia.

Now the British were just about to chase after them because of all the atrocities the rebels committed to the Loyalists in the 1770's, when thousands of British sympathizers were robbed and tortured. But in came France. They felt obliged to protect the colonies, even though they were extremely corrupt and had a wide trail of human rights abuses.

So under the comfortable umbrella of French protection, the Americans felt safe enough to abuse their rather fragile position. Lucky for them Britain sank into a period of insanity in the 1780's.

You see, if France decided at any time to withdraw their protection and acknowledge the British government as the true power in America, the Americans would have been bayoneted into the next century and America rightfully become part of Britain again. But due to the French protection, America laughed and talked about declaring independence.

Now, why do I believe Taiwan doesn't belong to China? Because most people there don't want to be part of China. (See their last election?)

Yes, China couldn't keep Taiwan because of the US. But Britain couldn't keep America because of France. Sometimes rebellions succeed; sometimes they fail (Civil War). When they fail, they fail. If they succeed because of outside forces, that's just tough shit for the old ruler, eh? The powerful side wins wars, like it or not, and it's America's policy to back democracies and not communism. Sorry.

Response to DMan: The corrupt Nationalists were the people in power originally, the (also corrupt, funny you never mention that) communists were the rebels. "Stealing" a piece of land, however, is quite rebellious against the newgovernment, eh? Surely at this point in time, after 50 years of control, the mainland China government is no longer a "rebel faction", whereas the offshore "rebel province" is. Sure it's a diferent situation than America, but it's the same idea. When people don't want to be ruled by their government, and have the power to stop that rule, why shouldn't they exercise it?

Besides, was it really "stealing" the land, or just retaining their power there?

Response(*sigh* again):As for the fact that the election results would be different if the US protection weren't there, do you really think that voting out of fear is how democracy should work? The US protection gave them the ability to vote how they wanted to.

Your entire argument really boils down to:
"Taiwan is too cocky anyways. Never liked them."

Things would be simple if it was just Taiwan wanting to be independent, but that's not it.

The Chinese think that Taiwan is a rebel province they need to get under control, but the Taiwan government thinks it should be the ruling government of China. The United States and the United Nations would not even recognize communist China until Richard Nixon went over there and worked things out. This caused Taiwan to be booted off the Security Council and the 1 billion people of mainland China finally got a voice in the U.N.

Sure, things have changed over the last 50 years but this is the basis of the conflict; two groups wanting to control the same place.

I'd be happy if Taiwan would just declare independence. Then we (the US) could officially support them (they'd be a democracy under siege by Communist oppressors) and maybe we'd get some deals on importing all of their computer products.

But it's none of my business...

China only wants Taiwan because Taiwan has become more successful and prosperous than China. China wants this prosperity, and rather than becoming a democratic nation, they turn to the only thing they know... threatening the small island with military force, in the hope that Taiwan will give in. But without a democratic government and basic human rights, Taiwan will not continue to prosper as it has, and China's plan to grasp the island's prosperity will backfire. If China wants to prosper as Taiwan has, they need to follow the example of Taiwan, not smother them with Communism.

China knows that democracy will lead to prosperity, that's why they've allowed Hong Kong to continue to operate with more freedom than the mainland. Just take a look at the Chinese stock market since the aquisition of Hong Kong. The problem is that the leaders are afraid of losing control, and if people could vote, they could vote the current leadership out. But if they move China toward true democracy and prosperity (earned, not obtained), they will be remembered as great men.

In Response to maggie: "The life of America is heavier than that of Taiwanese in the eyes of American government."

It's not life that concerns the US, it's money.  We sent troops to Kuwait quickly because there's oilthere.  But then we took years to decide whether it was justified to send troops to stop the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

Right now, China is starting to open their market to the US, so it's no surprise that there was very little US political reaction to China's threats before Taiwan's 2000 elections.  Taiwan has the better economy, but China has a huge potential if they're serious about free trade. That's a tough call for a government that believes only in the almighty dollar.
We were taught that Taiwan is part of China, just like some of us were taught in school that Taiwan was neutral and independent of China. It is hard for anyone to give up what he/she was taught in their early age. And, make thing worse, both sides have sufficient reasons to support their answers. Sometimes, the reasons are based on same facts --history and reality-- it is all depending on how we organize and phrase our reasons, according to our predefined answers. I truely understand everybody's position on this issue and others too.

One point I want to make here is that each government acts from its value and duty. On this particular issue, China, Taiwan, and America are doing what they have to do. For example, how can you ask China to let Taiwan go without any price, if you really believe Taiwan is not part of China? Mainland Chinese will think their government is so weak that it gives in to the power of America. Nobody wants his government weak although the government is not perfect at all.
And, as a capitalist/democratic government, USA's support to Nationlist and later Taiwan was out of fear of Communism in China and Sovlet Union. It was one of the efforts to keep its own national power and advantage over the world (God belesses American. You have such a good government.). The philosophy is that "If we can not get peace, let's at least have balance", especially, after the decomposition of former Soviet Union. That is why China is always the target, conveniet and "convincing". (In this sense, America did a good thing, although it might not be its intention.) Taiwan happened to be a little, but useful soldier on the chessboard with China. The ally of America and Taiwan is mutual benefitial to them. Also because of its responsibility to American people, USA may not involve into the military encounter between Mainland China and Taiwan, if there will have one. The life of America is heavier than that of Taiwanese in the eyes of American gevernment. It may sound cruel, but, there is some truth in it.
I am not saying there is no nice people and myself admir their dreams of peace and human right. But, if you believe a government or a party as a whole have sympathy for other people, you are too naive.

The issue of Taiwan is complicated, like North Ireland and Kosovo. Going back to history only makes me sad. The world is a bloody battle field from the beginning of civilization, in both sense of real wars and intangible sacrifices. The reality is that the world is a mess. Sorry, I could not be more constructive. I wish everybody happy, but things are not that simple. Maybe after 300 hundred years, we will have the answer. But, history just tells stories about winners and the strongers. And, who cares?
Well, I find myself unable to pass this up. Let me weigh in on a strictly analytical question: could the PRC successfully defeat Taiwan in a symmetric conflict?

By symmetric conflict I mean that both sides resort to full conventional military means. The PLA/PLAAF/PLAN (I love the PLAN. People's Liberation Army Navy. Sounds like a store) do not resort to nuclear strikes, nor to prolonged conventional missile bombardment with the aim of causing Taiwan's government to change policy. The latter isn't war, it's extortion, and the former I'll ignore because I'll assume the PRC wants Taiwan back, not obliterated.

Strait Razor

The entire question of whether or not China can conquer Taiwan hinges on whether or not the PRC can get an adequately-sized invasion force across the straits separating the two landmasses. Let's look at what it would take to invade Taiwan. Some factors to consider:

  • Taiwan has a military of ~250,000 personnel. Let's assume that of this number, 50,000 are available for ground combat. This is pessimistic; with reserves, the actual number is probably closer to 150,000; however, conservatism in analysis is a good thing.
  • In order to invade a state via amphibious assault, you need to capture a port to resupply and reinforce your troops; the number of men and machines that can be stuffed into landing craft is fairly small.
  • In order to have a successful amphib assault, you need beaches that are accessible to landing craft and have good access to the interior.
  • All of Taiwan's good coastline for this sort of thing that is near an active port is on the east side of the island. The PLAN would have to sortie around the island, not just across the straits.
  • Taiwan's western coast (facing the Mainland) is mostly rocky, and in any case, the terrain immediately behind the beaches is swampland. All the good north-south railway links and road networks are near the eastern coast.
  • An accepted rule of thumb for offense vs. defense force size ratio required for an attacker to prevail is approximately three to one. Prepared defenders with terrain advantages drive this ratio higher.

Let's recap. This means that the PRC needs to successfully get approximately 150,000 ground troops and their associated equipment to the eastern shore of Taiwan and get them ashore in good fighting order. Although this is an approximation, it should serve our purposes. What factors might affect their chances of success?

Lift Capability
The PRC does *not* have a strong amphibious assault and transport force. During the military exercises mentioned earlier in the node, the PRC 'invaded' a series of small islands a few (less than ten) miles off their coast. Perhaps 15,000 soldiers (roughly one division) were emplaced on these islands, using most of the available amphibious lift. Despite a lack of any opposition and an infinite rehearsal time, several of these soldiers (it is reported) starved to death due to the inability of the PRC to resupply them or lift them off in time. This bodes ill for getting ten times this number across a distance of perhaps one hundred to one hundred and fifty nautical miles safely, under opposition!

Air Superiority
This opposition would, in the initial stages of such a conflict, take the form of strike and fighter aircraft from Taiwan attempting to prevent the PRC vessels from crossing the Straits. In order for the PRC forces to successfully cross, they will need to deny the Taiwanese Air Force air superiority. The TAF has numerous strike aircraft and small bombers. Coupled with the flotilla of small missile boats in the Taiwan Navy, as well as a large force of more capable destroyers and frigates (including ex-U.S. Kidd-class ships), these forces mean that the mainland expeditionary force would have a short but exciting lifespan if they did not hold control of the air.

Can the Mainland gain and hold air superiority? Although the Chinese Air Force (PLAAF) is widely vaunted as having an enormous number of aircraft, the majority of these are obsolete types such as the J-6 and J-7, which are based on forty and twenty-five year old Soviet designs, the MiG-17 and MiG-21. China's 'modern' (fifth generation or better) air force consists of a handful (perhaps 50-60) of Sukhoi-27s bought from Russia. Despite her best efforts, China has been unable to get a licensed production line into operation to build these aircraft, due mostly to a lack of good infrastructure and parts supply. Taiwan, on the other hand, has a small horde of more modern aircraft such as the agile F-5 and the F-16 as well as indigenously-produced fighters. Although the F-5 is older, it is still used by many nations (including the U.S. as an OPFOR fighter!) and avionics upgrade kits are available to give it most of the 'punch' of a modern light fighter. The F-16 is a premier interceptor and ground-attack aircraft; most of the later revisions of the aircraft (which Taiwan has not gotten) addressed its long-range, night-fighting and ground-attack capabilities; it remains near the top of the heap as a dogfighter and interceptor. The Taiwanese IDF is a locally-built fighter based on a never-produced U.S. design called the F-20 Tigershark. It was a competitor to the F-16 design, and resembles an up-sized F-5. In addition, Taiwan has purchased Mirage fighters from France, and has had a great deal of avionics and systems upgrades done by various Western nations.

The mainland forces do not train often, and almost never over water. All in all, it looks fairly grim for the PLAAF. I would stake a small bet that Taiwan would run out of advanced AAMs before the PLAAF ran out of planes, but they can build those themselves and would most likely have resupply available from outside nations.

An additional imbalance present is the Taiwanese possession of several E-2C Hawkeye AWACS planes. While these are not the equivalent of the famed U.S. EC-135 AWACS, they are quite capable of managing battlespaces of around 200-300 miles in diameter; they do this for the U.S. carrier fleet. The mainland, as can be seen in recent news reports, is still trying to acquire their first reasonably capable AWACS-type aircraft, using Israeli systems in an ex-Soviet airframe - indicating their inability to produce such assets locally.

All in all, then, it appears unlikely the mainland would be able to achieve a safe and protected lane across the straits; and even if it could, would be unable to transport enough force far enough to have a prayer of engaging and defeating Taiwanese ground troops. This is especially true if we assume a motivated Taiwanese defense (it's their homes, after all!) and a prepared one as well (they've had quite some time to see this coming).

Yes, this miniature take on the question punts a whole number of issues. However, I'd be pleased to debate this in more detail one-to-one; /msg me or place your comments in this node!

China only wants Taiwan because Taiwan has become more successful and prosperous than China. China wants this prosperity

It is a misconception to say that China only wants Taiwan because it is prosperous. If Hong Kong/Macau were the size of Taiwan, and with the population to boot, then it would have a much larger GDP.

It is also a misconception to say that the Communists are nasty and the Nationalists were nasty, and that the bureaucrats of the last Imperial dynasty were ineffectual. It's these sort of sweeping generalisations about history that colour our minds towards ideologies. Yes, Chiang kai-shek may have been power-hungry, and yes the death of the Dowager Empress may have jump started the last days of Qin, but IT NEVER STARTED OFF THAT WAY.

The Nationlist revolution was based on idealistic principles, principles that the Kuomingtang in Taiwan still espouse in theory. However it did not arise BECAUSE Imperial China was corrupt or ineffectual, but was part of the symptoms of culture shock that affected the whole of China, with the foreign engagement in the 19th century. Communist propaganda aside, foreign imperial tendencies did make a sizeable impression in China, with the French, English, German, American, Dutch, all having trade concessions like Hong Kong. In the French concession in Shanghai, there was a park with a sign that said: "No Dogs and Chinese allowed". Can you imagine? But that's another node.

Is Taiwan part of China? I say yes, because:

  • Historical reasons: Contrary to other reports above, Taiwan has at least nominally been part of China since the late Han dynasty, and Chinese settlers were known to have been there in the Sung dynasty. That's almost two millenia of nominally being part of China. A long time by any other standards.

  • One Nation, One People: Unlike the American colonies example quoted by Uberfetus, China is a largely culturally homogenous nation, and has a long tradition of unity stemming since long before the Roman empire. The unity of China as a country also has a significance beyond that of mere independence, it smarts faintly of the Mandate of Heaven.

  • Sovereignity: Communist China claims to be the Middle Kingdom. Taiwan claims to be the rightful Middle Kingdom. There is a conflict. Who honestly has the right to that name? Did we call the Tzarist government-in-exile in London, Russia? By this same token, only Communist China has a decent claim to the name, under which it rules the vast majority of the Chinese people. It may change someday.

    When Japan conquered Manchuria, it established a territory known as Manchukuo, and installed the last Emperor of Qin there (Manchuria is the homeland of the Qin dynasty). They also claimed to be China. Were they right?

    Up to the last days of the Qin dynasty, there was a movement among Chinese to restore the former Ming dynasty, the last native Chinese dynasty (Manchurians are not native Chinese). They had a descendent of the Ming dynasty ready to install on the throne. They also claimed to be the rightful China. Were they?

Saying that Taiwan should be part of China is NOT a vote for Communism, as many people think it is. It is about the hearts and minds, and the unity of China, as a people, above and beyond ideologies.

There are plenty of overseas chinese who fled China because of the Communists. My family is one of them. My great-grandfather committed suicide as the Communists marched onto his lands. It was not communism itself they hated, but the violence, suffering, and the destruction of property that it brought. Whether communism falls because of the establishment of a democratic nation, or the rise of a new Imperial dynasty is moot, because we will not return there until suffering ends, or until when we are dead.

Taiwan should rightfully be considered a province of the People's Republic of China. At the end of World War II Japan was required to surrender all seized territories back to their rightful owners, although this didn't include Taiwan, which was taken by them in the first Sino-Japanese War, it was written into the treaty. From then 'til 1949, Taiwan was a part of China, and not considered a separate nation. When the KMT finally collapsed that year and the Communists took control of the mainland, the remnants of the government fled to the island of Taiwan and sought the protection of the United States, which was given. Until his death in the 1970s Chang Kai-Shek never gave up hope that one day the Nationalists would reclaim the mainland. Today, there is a growing number of people (Mostly the youth) in Taiwan that support (The "controversial" president being one) the independence movement, but you must realize there are other that the generation that is growing up now, following the death of Chiang Kai-Shek was never taught to really believe that Taiwan was a part of China, however, they were taught to view the Communists as not a good thing. As a result, they feel that because of the different ideologies that Taiwan would be better off as their own. The wrath of China will not allow this and would lead to an all-out war.

In short, China was fighting a civil war, it is most certainly not in any way, shape, or form similar the the American Revolution (Okay maybe it was in the sense that it was a sort of civil war). Let's put it this way, if we had Puerto Rico during the American Civil War, and the remnants of the Confederate government fled there and became sheltered by another country and attempted to declare its independence, would the United States agree to that? NO. Of course it wouldn't! What country would like a portion of it chopped off by an "exiled" government that was sticking its nose up at them?

* Taiwan was not booted off the Security Council...they walked out, moments before the vote.

Is Taiwan a part of China? Yes, no, maybe, who knows... The fact is, despite being officially unrecognized by the United Nations, the United States, and pretty much every country that counts, Taiwan seems to be doing just fine on its own economically and socially (how many pieces of your computer were made in Taiwan? and the Kuomintang has been giving way to more liberal and diverse parties with recent democratic elections).

Whatever your view on whether Taiwan is a part of China, it seems clear that China can't successfully capture Taiwan without destroying it. Therefore Taiwan is de facto independent of China, whether or not we actually say so. To me (an ABC, or American Born Chinese) the better question is, "Do we want Taiwan to be a part of China?" And my answer to that is NO...

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