pageok
pageok
pageok
Nations and People as Property:

One commenter writes in the Taiwan/China thread:

Accepting Taiwan as a "state" would be to give legitimacy to any separatist group that decided it wanted out of an existing nation. You would then have to grant legitimacy to Chechnya, the Tamils, the Kurds in Iraq, etc. How would we have felt if the world had decided to recognize the Confederacy during our own Civil War? We should stop protecting Taiwan and let it be returned to China, where it rightfully belongs.

Do I have that right -- we should stop protecting a democratic country, and let it be swallowed up by an oppressive dictatorship, because the democratic country, resumably including the country's citizens, "belongs" to the dictatorial one?

Any vision of international "property" that goes that far, it seems to me, is not one that we ought to respect. (I set aside the question whether sometimes we have to reluctantly accept it, since resisting it may involve more blood and treasure than we're willing to spend.)

Tennessean (mail):
I think that everything turns upon the question left aside -- what does it mean to accept? Because more abstractly, your question becomes what may we do when we believe the people within the previously accepted borders of another nation are being subjected to a restriction upon a critical right, e.g., the right to self-determination?

Although the facts are, as always, essential, I would note that you and the commenter have described different situations. He describes a withdrawal; you describe a consumption (noting that a democratic "country" that belongs to another country is neither democratic in the usual sense nor a country, again in the usual sense, if "belongs" means what most would think it does).

Assuming we decide it is a withdrawal, I think that "recognizing" the withdrawing country as a matter of statement may be permissible while aiding the withdrawal with military might may not be? Perhaps this distinction is not compelling?

I do wonder, though, whether the goose-gander issue raises its head, as the commenter suggests?

Or do we want to say that international law is not a law of states, but a law of peoples, so that democracies and quasi-democracies can do what they want to anything less so long as a plausible argument can be made that the people inhabiting the other country would support the move? If so, well, there's your argument against immigration, I suppose.
9.12.2006 9:00pm
JohnAnnArbor:
It's an unfinished civil war. The mainland didn't choose to finish off the Nationalists in 1949. The idea that they win over Taiwan by default, and that Taiwan should just happily march into dictatorship, is silly.

Aren't there lots of countries that recognize both North and South Korea?
9.12.2006 9:02pm
Albatross (mail) (www):
If memory serves, Britain and France both had diplomatic relations with the Confederate States of America, even if they did not officialy recognize the nation. And, I feel fine.
9.12.2006 9:11pm
Ian Argent (mail):
Technically, we are already recognizing the rebels by recognizing the PRC - Taiwan has a legitimate historical claim to being the proper gov't of all china (just not in control of their rebellious provinces...)
9.12.2006 9:17pm
ras (mail):
IIRC, many European countries were indeed planning on recognizing the Confederacy. They stopped cuz Lincoln timed the Emancipation Proclamation right when it was needed most, leaving them too embarrassed to side with the South in support of slavery.

In other words, their not recognizing the Confederacy had nothing to do with general, abstract considerations of when a people can secede or not, and everything to do with pragmatic politics and their own vested interests.

As for Taiwan per se, any people have a right to determine their own future more than a dictator has a right to claim them as property. You are perfectly correct, Mr. Volokh, and the commenter is reasoning from a conclusion.
9.12.2006 9:20pm
Tennessean (mail):
To be perfectly honest, "any people have a right to determine their own future more than a dictator has a right to claim them as property" is a collection of appellations that are no more than the judgments of those desiring to act! In the cases I can think of off-hand, e.g., Hitler, Castro, China, each government and "dictator" has claimed to act in the name and by the will of the people. Likewise, in our case, Mr. Bush claims to act in the name and by the will of the people, and indisputably there are particular people who voted against him, there are swaths of people within the United States who his government has deemed ineligible to vote (yet eligible to be ruled), and there other swaths of people without the United States who are not eligible to vote but who again are subject to United States control. I'm not saying that we are in a dictatorship, but I am saying that maxim is essentially useless for evaluating what is right and what is wrong.

We may well think that as a policy decision and based upon the facts before us that Taiwan should be recognized, but that general rule is not helpful except as propaganda.
9.12.2006 9:33pm
lesterstudent (mail):
The Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law Section 201 states,

Under international law, a state is an entity that has a defined territory and a permanent population, under the control of its own government, and that engages in, or has the capacity to engage in, formal relations with other such entitites.



Without going through an analysis, I think Taiwan satisfies all the requirements for statehood. However, one of the comments to Section 201 specifically addresses Taiwan:

While the traditional definition does not formally require it, an entity is not a state if it does not claim to be a state. For example, Taiwan might satisfy the elements of the definition in this section, but its authorities have not claimed it to be a state, but rather part of the state of China...


The Comment seems a little misguided to me. Though as a general matter, it seems intuitively correct that an organization should claim to be a state to be recognized as such, Taiwan is an exception, and certainly not a good example for the rule.

Taiwan does not claim to be a state not because it doesn't seek international legal recognition, but because of the extremely delicate political tightrope that it walks vis a vis mainland China. To the extent that the Restatement is a Restatement of Law, not politics (and to the extent that we should keep the two separate), it seems erroneous to claim that Taiwan's failure (for political realist reasons) to request recognition should somehow determine its status legally.
9.12.2006 9:49pm
ras (mail):
Tennessean,

Methinks you doth protesteth too much. Methinks you know it too.

Off to supper (unless you wanna redefine that as an oppressive social construct justifying revolution?). I'll check back in later if I can.
9.12.2006 9:50pm
DJB (mail):
Hitler, Castro, China, each government and "dictator" has claimed to act in the name and by the will of the people. Likewise, in our case, Mr. Bush claims to act in the name and by the will of the people

First of all, you're comparing apples and oranges. Hitler, Castro, and the Chinese communist regime are/were the rulers of their nations. George Bush is not the ruler of the United States of America -- he's just the head of the Executive branch of the government. The "ruler" of the United States, depending on how you want to look at it, either the federal government taken as a whole or the American people ourselves.

Secondly, the standard isn't "does the ruler or ruling body CLAIM to represent the will of the people" -- it is "DOES the ruling body represent the will of the people". The answer in the case of China is "no"; in the case of Taiwan and the United States it is "yes".

I'm not saying that we are in a dictatorship, but I am saying that maxim is essentially useless for evaluating what is right and what is wrong.

If you concede that we are not, in fact, in a dictatorship, then it logically follows that it is possible to determine if a nation is or isn't a dictatorship. It is therefore obviously wrong to claim that it is useless to use the standard "you must not be a dictatorship" when deciding questions of legitimacy.
9.12.2006 9:55pm
Tennessean (mail):
I protest too much because "Tennessee" is my convenient cover, as I am truly mainland China?

No, I protest too much because I am having hard time keeping my attention on SEC filings. Not that I think my motivation over there flaws my argument over here -- I still think the general rule I critiqued can't be anything other than a thing to say to justify the policies we want to implement.

(Not that our policies are wrong, but that if our policies are right, they are right before any such empty-meaning statement is uttered. And if we want to identify the rule for testing whether a policy is right, it has to have criteria that are more useful than merely to separate ex ante who might support the policy from who might oppose it.)
9.12.2006 9:55pm
Tennessean (mail):
DJB:

In reverse order:

1 - I did not concede that we are not a dictatorship, I side-stepped the issue altogether. While that may have been wrong to do (the side-stepping that is), you'd have to make that showing before the rest of your last paragraph does the work you'd like it to do.

2 - I think you've substituted apples for apples, which while not comparing apples to oranges doesn't really advance the ball.

While I am sure that any of us can come up with some test to distinguish the group that includes Hitler, et al. from the group that includes Bush, I think you might have to do that before you say that the one group are rulers while the other group is "the head of the Executive branch of the government." The fact that Bush will leave office (presumably) when his term expires is not enough (as you have all but admitted by putting "the Chinese communist regime" in the "ruler" category).

You have to do a lot more work to claim that the U.S. government represents the will of its people while the Chinese government merely claims to represent the will of its people. Even just looking at the U.S., I don't know what who "the people" are, I don't know what their "will" might be, I don't know how one might detect such a people's will, and I don't know what it would mean to "represent" such a will. Maybe I'm alone here, although as I suspect your understanding of such a claim is far, far from, say, Kant's, I doubt the phrases are so clear as to be beyond the need for definition.
9.12.2006 10:05pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
I gather Mr. Tennessean is not much in favor of a representative republic. With our universities run by professors who see the people killed on 9-11 as "little Eichmans" and others claiming the government brought down the Twin Towers with dynamite, I guess the nuts are coming out of the closet.

Did you see "The Birdcage?"
9.12.2006 10:28pm
Gaius Obvious (mail):
Accepting Taiwan as a "state" would be to give legitimacy to any separatist group that decided it wanted out of an existing nation.

Isn't that how the United States itself was formed? It decided it wanted out of the existing nation of the British Empire if I recall correctly.
9.12.2006 10:35pm
Chris Bell (mail):
I think the commentator's point was more along the line of "who are we to decide when a breakaway civil province becomes a separate state?"

Under the Restatement view, as the comment points out, the Confederacy was technically a distinct state. We don't have a problem with the North "conquering" the South, but we do have a problem with China taking Taiwan back.

I guess it all comes down to whether we like the result.
9.12.2006 10:39pm
Tennessean (mail):
I am never going to get any work done - this is fantastic!
I gather Mr. Tennessean is not much in favor of a representative republic. With our universities run by professors who see the people killed on 9-11 as "little Eichmans" and others claiming the government brought down the Twin Towers with dynamite, I guess the nuts are coming out of the closet.

Did you see "The Birdcage?"


I haven't seen the movie, as best as I can recall, but apparently when I do I will learn that I am not in favor of a representative republic, that I think the government brought down the Twin Towers and that the government did so they were killing wanna-be NAZIs (Does that make the conspiring government good or bad?), and that I am "a nut coming out of the closet."

It must be quite a movie.
9.12.2006 10:44pm
Steve:
But the passage of time makes the issue clear. It's not that the Confederacy announces a rebellion and bang, the next day they're a separate nation. As Dave Kopel lays out in detail, China has not exercised any meaningful sovereignty over Taiwan for many decades. Taiwan is not akin to some random rebel group - the state of affairs is pretty well settled.
9.12.2006 10:44pm
JohnAnnArbor:

Under the Restatement view, as the comment points out, the Confederacy was technically a distinct state. We don't have a problem with the North "conquering" the South, but we do have a problem with China taking Taiwan back.

Think of it as a statute of limitations. They took Hainan island, but not Taiwan, back in 1949. Then they let the situation sit for decades. You snooze, you lose.
9.12.2006 10:45pm
David Maquera (mail) (www):
When Communist China conquers Taiwan, then they can claim sovereignty over Taiwan. Until then, Taiwan is, and should be recognized as a separate nation.
9.12.2006 11:29pm
lesterstudent (mail):


Under the Restatement view, as the comment points out, the Confederacy was technically a distinct state. We don't have a problem with the North "conquering" the South, but we do have a problem with China taking Taiwan back.


I don't think the Confederacy would be a distinct state under the Restatement; another Comment states,


Even when an entity appears to satisfy the requirements of Section 201, other states may refuse to treat it as a state when circumstances warrant doubt that it will continue to satisfy the requirements of statehood--for example, where the new entity is attempting to secede from another state which continues to resist the secession. In such circumstances, refusing to treat it as a state may be not only justified but required, since premature acceptance is a violation of the territorial integrity of the state theretofore in control of that territory...


Thus, the South in the Civil War, Chechnya, and Kurdistan should not be considered states since the states from which they are trying to secede resist their secession.

Although China obviously disputes Taiwan's status as an independent country, it isn't "resisting" Taiwan's secession in the same way as the Civil War, the Chechen conflict or the Kurdish situation.

Of course, this argument has two problems. First, it creates incentives for a state to continue violent conflicts to maintain legal rights over a seceding territory (perhaps like JohnAnnArbor's comment about sleeping on rights) rather than seeking a peaceful resolution. Second, and on a more fundamental level, the argument leads to the conclusion that legal rights are in fact conferred by force, a result we usually try to avoid...
9.12.2006 11:31pm
Supermike (mail):
Let's not forget, the Taiwanese government actually predates that on the mainland. It was also the original signatory to the U.N. charter; not that that means much these days. Mark Steyn made the point one time that the notion that people inherently "deserve" a state is kind of a postmodern one. Technical legalities aside, the real measure of whether a state should exist or not is how it behaves. I don't think mainland China should be encouraged to threaten a half-century old, thriving state with abolition or destruction as its only options.
9.13.2006 12:05am
JB:
Chris Bell: Precisely. It does come down to whether we like the result. That's why Britain and France didn't recognize the Confederacy.

International law ought to be approached far more pragmatically than domestic law. Ideology really only goes so far, when the ideologues don't control the whole system.
9.13.2006 12:09am
liberty (mail) (www):
"Technical legalities aside, the real measure of whether a state should exist or not is how it behaves."

No, I think the real measure is whether the state represents the people and whether the people want to be a united state separate from any other sovereign state.

If it does and they do, then the state has a right to secede (if necessary) and be recognized. This standard should apply whether it is Taiwan, Kurdistan, Puerto Rico or Texas.

We tend to use this standard when a country is being invaded but then forget it once the invader has won; we also ignore it when its too complicated, far away or politically inconvenient, unfortunately.
9.13.2006 12:15am
Lev:
I am not sure anything said so far in here hangs together very well.

]we should stop protecting a democratic country, and let it be swallowed up by an oppressive dictatorship, because the democratic country, resumably including the country's citizens, "belongs" to the dictatorial one?

"We" "let" the independent country of Tibet be swallowed up by an oppressive dictatorship that thought Tibet belonged to it based on historical claims. How is that different from Taiwan? Taiwan has a moat and Tibet didn't?

How does any of this apply to Yugoslavia? There was a distinct and internationally recognized country. Several of the various parts, Slovenia, Croatia, BosniaHerzegovina tried to secede and form independent countries, and the Serbian part (including Montenegro and Kosovo) tried to prevent dissolution of the country. The international community recognized and protected the various parts.

Then, Serbia started doing very unpleasant things in its Kosovo province that was unquestionably part of Serbia Proper, and the international community stepped in essentially to eliminate Serbian control over Kosovo. The current result is that the Albanian Kosovars have been, under the protection of NATO and the UN, doing the same unpleasant things to the Serbian Kosovars that brought NATO into Kosovo in the first place. Further, contrary to NATO guarantees to Serbia that Kosovo would never be indepedent of Serbia, it appears NATO and the UN are now ready to set it up as independent of Serbia.

In this context, analyze that.

Further, if memory serves, there is some "policy directive" for lack of a better term, in the EU that seems to allow parts of countries to secede from the countries, eg Catalonia from Spain. Is Spain required to participate in its dismemberment? What about The United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales, and No. Ireland?

It seems to me this is all trying to put sugary frosting on a cake of excrement - if force succeeds, the results are recognized. If not, not. All the rest is rationalization.

If Bush The Elder had not decided "this shall not stand", then Kuwait would now the 19th province of Husseinic Iraq. Oh the world would have tut tutted about it, but that's it.

Taiwan has been able to maintain its "secession" because of its moat, so far; Tibet has no moat and has not.
9.13.2006 12:31am
Malvolio:
"We" "let" the independent country of Tibet be swallowed up by an oppressive dictatorship that thought Tibet belonged to it based on historical claims. How is that different from Taiwan? Taiwan has a moat and Tibet didn't?
That yesterday we did a bad thing, or allowed a bad thing to happen, or were unable to stop a bad thing from happening, does not excuse similar behavior today.

Quite the opposite I would think.
9.13.2006 2:14am
MarkM (mail):
It is a perfectly sensible policy to say that if a territory is ruled over by a stable, free, democratic government for a period of time, that territory should be recognized as an independent nation. Unless you think there should be a big international squabble over getting the Czech Republic and Poland to give up big chunks of their territories to Germany or you would like to see California returned to Mexico, it is best to let a very satisfactory status quo stand.
9.13.2006 2:29am
Orwell's Ghost (mail):
Isn't it funny how it always becomes a question of 'we' did this, 'we' did that? 'We' the source of evil, everywhere.

As a matter of fact, we didn't 'let' the Chinese take Taiwan, we supplied an insurgency against the Chinese in Tibet from neighboring Nepal. The Tibetans couldn't hold on, the Taiwanese have.
9.13.2006 2:36am
Lev:
Malvolio

That's a complete non sequitor.

Orwell's Ghost

I would have thought that Orwell might appreciate the intended meaning of the quotation marks in: "We" "let" ... I guess something was lost in the passage to "the other side."
9.13.2006 3:09am
Hindin (mail):
>Accepting Taiwan as a "state" would be to give legitimacy to any separatist group that decided it wanted out of an existing nation

As far as I remember history, US was at some point part of British Empire. By the same logic, US should not exist.
9.13.2006 5:02am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
To be perfectly honest, "any people have a right to determine their own future more than a dictator has a right to claim them as property" is a collection of appellations that are no more than the judgments of those desiring to act! In the cases I can think of off-hand, e.g., Hitler, Castro, China, each government and "dictator" has claimed to act in the name and by the will of the people. Likewise, in our case, Mr. Bush claims to act in the name and by the will of the people, and indisputably there are particular people who voted against him, there are swaths of people within the United States who his government has deemed ineligible to vote (yet eligible to be ruled), and there other swaths of people without the United States who are not eligible to vote but who again are subject to United States control. I'm not saying that we are in a dictatorship, but I am saying that maxim is essentially useless for evaluating what is right and what is wrong.

Gotcha. Here we have your statement that Mr. Bush "claims" to act in the name and by the will of the people; the implication is that his claims are illegitimate despite having been elected - twice. You see in a representative republic, someone who is elected can and does act in the name of the people. That is how a representative republic works, and if you disagree I can conclude that you are not in favor of a representative republic.

And that twaddle about "swaths of people within the United States who his government has deemed ineligible to vote (yet eligible to be ruled)," Really? Pray tell what Presidential Proclamations have disenfranchised "swaths" of people. And the catty reference to "eligible to be ruled." Is that what we are in the U.S.? Ruled? As Castro "rules" Cuba or Hitler "ruled" Germany?

"I'm not saying that we are in a dictatorship" eh? It sure sounds as if you can't find much difference between Hitler, Castro, Chairman Mao and the "rule" of George Bush.

As I said earlier, the nuts are coming out of the closet.
9.13.2006 8:58am
dearieme:
On that view, at least 13 of your States should place themselves under the sovereignty of Her Britannic Majesty immediately. If she'll have 'em.
9.13.2006 9:23am
PersonFromPorlock:
Couldn't we, with just as much justification as pro-PRC opinion holds, argue that the government in Taiwan is properly the government of all China? We used to.
9.13.2006 9:40am
Tom952 (mail):
The U.N. is revealed as a meaningless bureaucracy. Its edicts are ignored with impunity; its sanctions have no effect. Only the guns and blood of Americans have ever forced compliance with U.N. dictums. Since the U.S. will not go to war with China over Taiwan, Taiwan has no true rights by virtue of the existance of the U.N.

China's prosperity has reduced the idealogical differences between China and Taiwan. The two could now be combined and engaged in a package of mergers and trade agreements, rather than as a result of armed force.
9.13.2006 9:53am
Brendan (mail):
1. I don't know how capable China is of taking over Taiwan as easily as is made sound on this thread.

2. The US trades a lot with both countries and has an interest in keeping things peacful, but we could very easily put an aircraft carrier and naval group in the area and China would have quite a dificult time getting through.

3. The US should encourage the militarization of Japan to balance things out. Their defense spending would reduce the amount of attention we need to spend there.

4. In general all rule of law is backed up by force. The nation state exists because it was the most effective way to provide for the common defense and offense. The rule of law in the US is expressly backed up by the force police units can apply.

5. The UN and multilateralism in general are idiotic. We should shut down the UN and just deal with the countries we like. Bilateral free trade agreements seem to be more effective than huge ones.
9.13.2006 11:45am
Random3 (mail):
Historically, an important part of achieving national independence has often been, to put it bluntly: Guns. If the mother country isn't in agreement with secession, then acheiving independence will usually require some military butt-kicking. Notwithstanding the best moral, legal, and historical arguments, favorable international law, and worldwide consensus - it all won't mean a thing without the guns, and the willingness to use them in a way that makes it too expensive for the mother country or empire to maintain control. That's why Taiwan is independent and Tibet isn't. That's why the thirteen colonies achieved independence and the Confederacy didn't. Guns.
9.13.2006 11:50am
Seamus (mail):

"We" "let" the independent country of Tibet be swallowed up by an oppressive dictatorship that thought Tibet belonged to it based on historical claims. How is that different from Taiwan? Taiwan has a moat and Tibet didn't?



Well, if Tibet had applied to the U.N. in 1948, there might have been a good argument for admitting it. (Of course, the application would have been vetoed in the Security Council by China, since Chiang Kai-shek was no fonder of Tibetan independance than Mao. BTW, can anyone explain how Chiang was persuaded not to veto the application of Mongolia back in 1961? The Nationalist government of China regarded both Mongolia and Tibet as Chinese territories that had exploited China's weakness after the 1911 revolution to become independent de facto, but it never recognized them as independent de jure.)
9.13.2006 11:54am
Dan Hamilton:
We should help Taiwan retake its rebelious provinces.

We should support democracy over dictatorships.

There is ONLY ONE CHINA and Taiwan is its rightfull government. They just haven't figured out a way for a few million people to retake provinces that have a few BILLION people. But you can be sure that they are working on it.
9.13.2006 1:38pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
1. I don't know how capable China is of taking over Taiwan as easily as is made sound on this thread.
It isn't (or at least it would be very tough for China)-- but it is capable of destroying Taiwan. That's the worry.

Well, that and the fact that we're obligated to defend Taiwan if China attacks, and we really don't want to be in a war with China.
9.13.2006 1:54pm
ras (mail):
The difference between Tibet &Taiwan is not what anyone shouldda done, but in what they couldda done.

There was no great encouragement for China's conquest of Tibet, nor even approval, just as there is no approval for, say, a particularly harsh winter. Sometimes you just gotta hunker down and accept those things you cannot change, whether you like them or not. Acceptance is not the same as approval.

This does leave open the q of just what constitutes a "separating state" (for want of a better term), esp how large it needs to be. In Taiwan's case, it's clear, but what if, say, Dearborn, Michigan declares itself separate? Big enough? What if it's just part of Dearborn? Or just one street? Sometimes carrying the argument to the absurd does illustrate a point.

Taiwan is an easy example of a legit state; a single street in Dearborn is an equally easy example in the opposite direction. It's somewhere in the middle where it gets tough.
9.13.2006 2:41pm
Martin Grant (mail):
>Secondly, the standard isn't "does the ruler or ruling body CLAIM to represent the will of the people" -- it is "DOES the ruling body represent the will of the people".

Since George Bush lost the popular vote the first time he was elected, does that mean he does not have "the will of the people" and therefore we had an illegitimate government by the definitions above, due to a misguided election process?
9.13.2006 2:57pm
Chris Bell (mail):
Martin:

What about European governments that use proportional representation, where the majority almost NEVER voted for the supreme leader?
9.13.2006 4:02pm
Virginian:
Moneyrunner43 apparently thinks that anyone who leaves open the possibility that the U.S. is not the center of all that is good is a raving lunatic who hates America. Logic is not his strong suit.

I think that:

Tennessean makes good logical points.

ras's point was good rhetoric (and rhetoric with which I generally agree, notwithstanding the definitional deficiencies Tennessean points out).

I think JB is right that there are not logical (or ideological) rules that do or should govern our behaviour in the international arena: We can assist Taiwan in remaining a democratic nation free of communist China, but were unable to help Tibet do the same. The U.S. isn't morally bankrupt because the deciding difference may have been the moat.

Trying to fit our foreign policy into a logical framework so that we can plug in variables and get an answer is a colossal waste of time. The specific facts, as Tennessean pointed out long ago, will and should determine our action in a given situation, regardless of whether that action can be fit into a coherent, non-self-contradictory theory of foreign relations.

I've seen parts of the Bird Cage, but apparently not the most interesting parts.
9.13.2006 4:04pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Brendan:

...we could very easily put an aircraft carrier and naval group in the area...

And china could very easily close down every shopping mall in America. Talk about a balance of terror!
9.13.2006 6:01pm
CB:
I haven't read through the comments thread from the previous post, but I have a few questions:

1) Has the "government of China", the communists of the PRC, EVER had control, sovereignty, possession, or a military or governmental over any part of Taiwan?

2) Was the nationalist government ever recognized as having sovereignty over China (the big China, now occupied by communists)?

3) Is the ROC, "Taiwan", a clearly segregated territory (it's an island), with its own set of laws, own government, and own elections?

4) Does the US government or other major nations of the world (even China?) recognize a Taiwanese passport as identification?

I think I know the answers, but if your answers generate a situation similar to that of the Tamils or Kurds please feel free to speak up...
9.13.2006 6:57pm
godfodder (mail):
Martin Grant:
Of course, it is also true that Bill Clinton was elected president with 43% of the popular vote in 1992. So, I think his legitimacy as president was much more questionable than Bush's in 2000... as I am sure you will agree. I mean, can you imagine? A full 57% of voters voted against Governor Clinton! Yet there he was, strutting and making decisions like he thought he was George Bush the Elder or something!

Also, in 1996 the majority of voters picked someone other than Mr. Clinton, so again there is the question of legitimacy, as again I am sure you agree.
9.13.2006 7:08pm
jvarisco (www):
From Chapter I, Article II of the UN Charter:

"The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members."

In the UN, all states, free or not, are considered equal. I also don't see an inherent link between "free" and "peace-loving"; political scientists tried to find such a link, and failed. Democracies go to war just as much as dictatorships. Taiwan is not a democratic country, it is a (democratic) province. I don't see how there is any legal distinction between a place like Taiwan and Chechnya or even our own Confederacy. We (one important member state) happen to like their values more - but that seems a weak justification in terms of international law. It should be kept in mind that the Taiwanese government was definitely not representative during the civil war - in fact it lost despite massive American support. Mao may have been communist, but he was much more popular with the people.
9.13.2006 9:54pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Virginian,

Moneyrunner43 apparently thinks that anyone who leaves open the possibility that the U.S. is not the center of all that is good is a raving lunatic who hates America. Logic is not his strong suit.

Anyone who so distorts my comments is guilty of using both the "straw man" fallacy, and may well (according to the Left) be guilty of language torture, a crime I am sure. Your rhetoric is dishonest and your logic is non-existant.

Tennessean makes good logical points.
Ah, we have a sock puppet. Has anyone ever seen The Virginian and the Tennessean in the same room?
9.13.2006 10:22pm
Steph (mail):
javarisco

You say there is no legal diference between free and unfree states in international law. But is that a justification of you position? Or is it a indication that international law is corupt?
9.13.2006 10:50pm
jvarisco (www):
Steph) I think it is a good thing. Because you can be sure that people in China believe the opposite - that we are too free, and are thus corrupt, and so forth. No one believes they are "unfree" - they think their system is the best one. If anyone with power (which happens to be us, but won't be forever) feels they can impose their system on everyone else, that causes lots of problems. The strength of institutions like the UN is that while they allow "unfree" regimes to go on being unfree - which may seem undesirable now considering that such regimes are the weaker actors on the international stage - but they also allow free regimes to stay as they are. In 100 years when China's billion people are outproducing us, do you want a UN that supports our autonomy, or one that allows them to impose their system on everyone else? Your assumptions are based on American primacy, which is a variable, not a constant.
9.14.2006 1:54am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
lvarisco:

Because you can be sure that people in China believe the opposite - that we are too free, and are thus corrupt, and so forth.

Is this based on your personal experience, a poll, or is it just projection from your own biases.

Tiananmen Square was one indication that you may be projection your own fantasies on the Chinese people.
9.14.2006 8:51am
CWuestefeld (mail) (www):
We should stop protecting Taiwan and let it be returned to China, where it rightfully belongs.

I can't believe that no one else is laughing at that sentence. How in the world do we decide where something "rightfully belongs". Why would we say that Taiwan "belongs" to PRC anymore than we'd say it belongs to France? What's the logic used to determine proper belonging?
9.14.2006 1:47pm
jallgor (mail):
It seems to me that no matter which way your thinking is here there should be a different analysis for secession versus revolution. Secession to me is where one portion of a country wants to go its separate way. Revolution is where one group wants to take over the country from another group. I think they are distinct.
It has always seemed to me that secession in most cases should be a legitimate option for people who feel such a disconnect from their fellow countrymen. For example, aside from the slavery issue, I have never really understood the moral highground that history has given the North during the Civil War.
Revolutions, on the other hand, are thornier. Are they legitimate means to obtain freedom from oppression or just a violent power grab? Usually, only time tells.
China and Taiwan seems to raise both. China experienced a revolution when the communists took power and not long after Taiwan essentially secedes (I know that's not historically precise) because they don't want to be a part of the mess that they beleived China would be for the next 50 years.
It may come down to this question, what right do people who are citizens of a country have to the land that they themsleves don't occupy but happens to be within their country's borders. Historically, the answer seems to be "quite a lot" because fighting against secession seems to be a generally acceptable thing but i am not sure that I agree with that answer.
If California wanted to the leave the US tomorrow I would be upset and it would certainly hurt the country as a whole but I don't think I would advocate keeping them in by force.
9.14.2006 2:04pm
jvarisco (www):
Moneyrunner) The idea that people have some inherent wish for American freedoms is simply not based on reality. Look at Tiananmen. It was put down, and the government kept going. Had it been truly widespread, it might have mattered. Democracy is not only recent, it only exists in a small minority of countries. I don't see any reason to view it as the normal evolution of society.

CWuestefeld) I don't see how France comes in. Until the civil war, Taiwan was part of mainland China. In the aftermath of the war, the losing side fled to it, and as far as China is concerned that war is still going on. We don't decide anything, international law does. Taiwan held China's security council seat until 1971 - 20 years after they lost all of mainland China. I don't think Taiwan has formally proclaimed independence either. Barring something like genocide, internal squabbles within China are none of our business.

jallgor) I don't see a difference between secession and revolution. They are essentially the same - both cause anarchy and split the country. No state has the right to leave - because by doing so they would also harm the US as a whole. If the south had been allowed to leave, we would have had two (weak) countries sharing North America. We would not have our dominant position in the world. It's interesting that people who want the ability to project freedom and democracy would also support a movement that, had it been successful, would have prevented that.
9.14.2006 3:12pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
Apparently it is not very well known that the idea that Taiwan is "part of China" is mostly a convenient historical fiction. In fact, China ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895 (and, prior to that had exercised only marginal control over Taiwan). Japan ceded Taiwan back in 1945 and evacuated it because Japan was defeated by the US. The KMT ended up in possession of Taiwan because the US gave it to them a couple of years before the Communists defeated the KMT on the mainland.

On the other hand, the great majority of prople living there during the last several hundred years (including the period of Japanese rule) have been ethnic Chinese. Wikipedia has a good article on this.

On the substance of the thread, I agree with Random3. What matters in the end is guns. Of course money helps, too (if nothing else, it buys good guns). And, in the spirit of this blog, never forget the lawyers.
9.14.2006 6:41pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Moneyrunner) The idea that people have some inherent wish for American freedoms is simply not based on reality. Look at Tiananmen. It was put down, and the government kept going. Had it been truly widespread, it might have mattered. Democracy is not only recent, it only exists in a small minority of countries. I don't see any reason to view it as the normal evolution of society.

First of all, I find it interesting that you use the term "American freedom." It speaks in echoes of those who praise certain dictators because the people they rule may not be able to vote for their leaders, can't criticize their government and the place is a socialist hellhole with a decaying infrastructure (but highly effective prisons) … but, "the people have free health care, no one goes to bed hungry and literacy is 110%." And so, the apologists for these dictators say: who is freer? "People don't want your American Democracy." Right...and then another family sets sail on a raft made of inner tubes, braving sharks,leaving their socialist paradise to live the hardscrabble existance on the mean street of Miami.

You cite the fact that after the Chinese government sent in tanks and killed hundreds; the protest was put down as evidence that it was not a broad based movement. I have no way of knowing, but I do know that if a tyranny is ruthless enough it can keep control for a long time after the people become unhappy with their fate. Tens of millions were killed or starved during the "Great Proletarian Revolution" and yet Mao survived and thrived. Those millions who died were certainly a minority and, using your logic, had no widespread support. You don't think the Red Army and secret police had to work overtime do you?

Regarding Democracy -- I won't be too pedantic, but we do not live in a Democracy; we live in a Representative Republic whose charter -- the Constitution -- limits the power of the government over its people. A democracy is a sheep and two wolves having a vote on what's for dinner.

On a final note, Freedom House is widely know for its annual survey of freedom and repression. Here is their data for 2006:

The population of the world as estimated in mid-2005 is 6,457.7 million persons, who reside in 192 sovereign states. The level of political rights and civil liberties as shown comparatively by the Freedom House Survey is:

Partly Free: 1,157.7 million (17.93 percent of the world's population) live in 58 of the states.

Not Free: 2,331.2 million (36.10 percent of the world's population) live in 45 of the states.

Free: 2,968.18 million (45.97 percent of the world's population) live in 89 of the states.

So you see "free" or Democratic" is not nearly as rare as you seem to believe.

Check their website to see what the numbers were 10 years ago.
9.14.2006 9:23pm
CWuestefeld (mail) (www):
Apparently it is not very well known that the idea that Taiwan is "part of China" is mostly a convenient historical fiction.

This is what I was getting at when I said that Taiwan may as well belong to France as to the PRC.

To say that some region / group of people "rightfully belongs" to/with some other, you have to first draw some arbitrary line in the sand and declare it blessed.

To justify this choice for the PRC, you have to choose a very specific set of values; you could land in the aforementioned Japanese era, or if you go back farther, you land in an era when there doesn't even exist a "China" as such.

Tangentially-related anecdote: My wife is from the PRC. Despite being from Shanghai, she'll tell you that her home town is a city she's been to enough times to count on all her digits. This is because, she says, your hometown is considered to be the place your grandfather came from. I then ask "why not your great-grandfather? Why not your grandmother? Why not the place where you were born or grew up?". Then she hits me.
9.15.2006 3:24pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
"When in the course of human events..." The Founders of the United States did not assert that the American colonists had an intrinsic, natural right to overthrow the established de jure authority of the British Crown whenever they felt like it. What they asserted is that rebellion, secession, or revolution may be morally justified by circumstances, and that the people have a natural right to act on such moral justifications. Then they set forth the circumstances which justified their Revolution. History, in general, agrees with them.

Other rebels, secessionists, and revolutionaries have made similar cases: some valid, some specious. There is no automatic rule dividing the valid from the specious.

Each case must be judged on its merits, and the judgement of those merits is a matter for debate and opinion. What was justified under the circumstances of 1776 is not automatically justified under very different circumstances in 1860 or 2006.

Taiwan would have a good case for establishing its sovereignty against the de jure claim of the PRC. The PRC has never ruled Taiwan; Taiwan is geographically separate from the mainland; Taiwan has functioned as a sovereign state for almost 60 years; the Taiwan government is orderly and humane; the PRC government is corrupt, brutal, and dictatorial; hardly anyone in Taiwan wants rule by the PRC.

The Confederacy had a very poor case. No history of previous separate existence; no geographical separation; no abuses by the Federal government; a large Unionist minority (that was a majority in many areas); and a grievance that history has universally condemned (the defense of slavery).

(This last will no doubt be disputed by neo-Confederates. Let them explain the explicit references to slavery in the Declarations of Causes issued by the secession conventions in 1860-61.)

The cases for Ireland in 1920, Algeria in 1954, and Tibet today fall in between.
9.15.2006 10:21pm