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Taiwan Election Coverage:

In about seven hours, the polls will open for Taiwan's presidential election. Incumbent President Chen Shui-Bian is term-limited, so the race is between Frank Hsieh, of the Democratic Progressive Party (the same party as Chen), and Ma Ying-Jeou, of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party). The public release of polling information is forbidden in the days before the election, but many observers believe that Hsieh is rapidly closing a large gap in the polls.

An important factor working in Hsieh's favor is the rioting in Tibet, a reminder of China's brutal suppression of a formerly independent nation; although the Chinese government has renamed Tibet as the "Tibet Autonomous Region," Chinese treatment of the Tibetans ever since the Chinese conquest half a century ago serves as a reminder that the Chinese government's promises of autonomy are sometimes worthless.

Mr. Ma, the former mayor of Taiwan's capital city, Taipei, has proposed forming a common market with China, and his party, the KMT, is generally seen as more conciliatory to China than is the DPP. (However, DPP candidate Hsieh is seen as much less inclined than President Chen to push the envelope on China issues.)

As a result, Ma has made a point of taking a tough line on the Tibet issue. He contrasted Taiwan and Tibet by stating that unlike Tibet, Taiwan is "sovereign"--an indisputably accurate fact, although one with many appeasement-minded KMT members have been reluctant to say out loud. Further, he said that if Chinese government violence in Tibet continues, Taiwan might boycott the Beijing Olympics.

Over 200,000 Taiwan citizens living overseas have come home to vote in the election. The majority of these traveling voters are Taiwanese entrepreneurs and their families who live in China. One elderly man traveled 20 hours from Brazil to be able to vote.

The Taiwanese are very enthusiastic participants in their democracy, and, happily, the electorate seems less polarized than in the bitterly-contested 2004 election.

By Taiwanese law, all public rallies must end by 10 p.m. on the night before the election. A little bit ago, I attended the KMT's final pre-election rally in Taipei. Neither presidential candidate Ma Ying-Jeou nor his running mate Vincent Siew were at the rally, since both spent the day in campaigning in southern Taiwan. Below are some pictures from the rally. I didn't arrive in Taipei in time to attend the DPP's big rally there two nights ago; I wish I had, so that I could also post DPP photos.

VC readers will be pleased to know that both Hsieh and Ma have law degrees, and that Ma earned a LLM from Harvard.

These photos are taken from near the front of the rally; they don't convey the size of the crowd, which was huge, or the sounds of the loud and enthusiastic crowd.

The woman in the middle of the above picture (to the left of the man in the lavender shirt) had flown in from Los Angeles to vote.

The KMT is the leading party of the pan-blue coalition; while the DPP leads the pan-green coalition. Hence the DPP's campaign symbol of a bluebird. The flags, of course, are those of Republic of China, which is Taiwan's formal name.

Siew is on the left, Ma on the right.

Visitor Again:
One of my clients in Los Angeles, who has become a dear friend, left for Taiwan in early March to campaign and vote for the DPP candidate. He won't be back until early next week. He did the same in previous elections. He is adamantly against a rapprochement with China. He is only one of many Taiwanese who have made the trip from Los Angeles to Taiwan for this election. Nearly all these L.A.-based Taiwanese--unlike the Taiwanese who have come "home" from China--are supporters of the DPP.

When I found out about his political activities, I told him that as a young man, more than 35 years ago, I had a huge picture on the kitchen wall of my Venice apartment depicting Chairman Mao standing on a beach. On it I had written "Chairman Mao on the Venice Beach." And, of course, I had the Little Red Book. My client laughed about it.
3.21.2008 1:56pm
sjay2k (mail) (www):
Well I placed half my net worth on Hsieh, so good luck to him.

Also can I get some love for this entry on various legal ideas?
3.21.2008 2:48pm
Dave N (mail):
I suspect Frank Ma may actually win because the PRC does such a good job of occassionally exposing the thuggish oligarchy who control the country beneath the "China is Ready for Business and We Really Don't Take Communism Seriously" veneer.

I do find it highly ironic that the PRC would prefer to deal with the KMT, founded by Chiang Kai-Shek, than with the DPP.
3.21.2008 2:50pm
Freddy Hill:
Last weeks one of my wife's Houston students flew back to Taiwan to vote. He's not wealthy.

If we only had that civic conscience here!
3.21.2008 3:49pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
VC readers will be pleased to know that both Hsieh and Ma have law degrees, and that Ma earned a LLM from Harvard.

I'm sure not pleased. We have way too many lawyers in politics here in the States; I assume Taiwan is similar. Obviously a legal background is relevant to policymaking but I am disturbed by the narrowing of perspectives that results from having only leaders with such similar backgrounds. Plus mostly a narrow range of personalities are drawn to law in the first place. I would prefer to see more politicians with backgrounds in fields like economics, political science, business, or even psychology or medicine.

Also, as a Stanford student I am particularly dismayed to see that Mr. Ma received his LLM from a third-rate school :-P
3.21.2008 4:02pm
Smokey:
All Taiwanese need to do is watch what China is doing to Tibet to see what's in store for them if they play kissyface with the dictatorship.
3.21.2008 4:20pm
advisory opinion:
Ma FTW.

As for China in Tibet, don't be so precious. The L.A. riots in '92 resulted in scores dead as well. No handwringing from the likes of Kopel then?

So now we get Tibetans were attacking Han Chinese on the streets of Lhasa, trashing shops and generally causing a ruckus in a direct challenge to authority. How did you think Beijing would react? Of course they'd put an end to the violence by all necessary means. And rightly they should.

Tibet has been a part of China since at least the Yuan dynasty and has never been internationally recognized as a sovereign state. Even the Qing were pacifying the province two centuries ago. When even the Dalai Lama says Tibet is part of China, and does not want independence but only autonomy, the matter is pretty much settled.

Mischief-makers like Kopel have a fetish for undermining the territorial integrity of sovereign states. First Taiwan, now Tibet.

As if the United States doesn't have more pressing concerns to attend to. If you want one or more carrier battle groups sunk in the Taiwan straits, then follow Kopel's collision course trajectory with China. Responsible people on the other hand ought to marginalize his agitation for Tibetan and Taiwanese independence, which can only lead to war at a terrible cost.
3.21.2008 5:13pm
advisory opinion:
And Tibet was never a de jure independent state. Its de facto autonomy was a result of China's preoccupation with civil war and then the second world war. Neither the commies nor the Kuomingtang relinquished de jure sovereignty over Tibet in the interim. So Taiwan, qua China, asserts sovereignty over Tibet as well. Which is ironic, given the DPP's paradoxical bind over the issue.

The Taiwanese should ask themselves whether Tibet should actually alarm them, or if it's just scare-mongering from the DPP caucus. Hong Kong after all has thrived under the SAR, with mass demonstrations, dissent, but little to no violence or interference from Beijing since the '97 handover.

That pretty much clinches the argument.
3.21.2008 5:27pm
Elam Bend (mail):
The political coalitions are Blue/Green there?! Like Byzantium?
3.21.2008 5:42pm
faceword:
Anyone who looks at the history of Taiwan can't help but have great hope for China. Until 1987, Taiwan was a capitalist dictatorship -- much as China is now. Perhaps in 20 years, China also will be thriving multi-party democracy.

Keep in mind that even though Ma's KMT is characterized as more "China friendly", he has no illusions about China's current regime, and political reunification would only occur peacefully, and after China becomes democratic. He has even suggested that Taiwan might boycott the Olympics over the Tibet issue.

There are other issues in the Taiwanese presidential campaign besides policy toward China. During the DPP run in the national leadership, they were hit by a number of corruption scandals. Ma is widely regarded a very clean candidate (notwithstanding DPP tabloid media attempts to smear him).

Disclosure: One of Ma's nephews is a childhood friend of mine.
3.21.2008 6:04pm
advisory opinion:
Almost no chance of China being a "thriving multi party democracy" in 20 years. My inclination is to believe that that time-frame is too short. I say it'd take at least 30 years of peaceful uninterrupted growth for modest democratization to take place. 50 for province level elections (once the demographic tilt is irreversible in Xinjiang and Tibet).

It is striking that ALL parties want eventual peaceful reunification as the best possible outcome. Given China's relative restraint over the Taiwan issue - as long as the bottomline of independence is not breached - why in the world are agitators like Kopel trying to stoke Taiwanese independence knowing full well China would have little choice but to go to war in the event? It's mindless.

As it stands, the status quo ensures peace. The U.S. reassures China by maintaining its One China policy, but leaves some ambiguity as to its intentions by parking one or two aircraft carriers in the Straits as and when its needed to deter Chinese reactions from going overboard. But everyone knows the line that must not be crossed: declaration of Taiwanese independence. The United States knows, and the Taiwanese know, and the Chinese know that that is the casus belli. After years of fierce rhetoric, China would never live it down if it fails to respond with force should the casus belli present itself.

Which is why all parties are accordingly coy when it comes to reaching that situation. No one wants it. The only people who want it, who have no compunction about encouraging it, are the ideologically reckless like Kopel, who surely isn't ignorant of the cost of what he advocates.
3.21.2008 6:33pm
Visitor Again:
Excellent analysis, ap. Do you know of any evidence that the DPP is behind the timing of the Tibet disturbance?
3.21.2008 6:40pm
advisory opinion:
? Not sure I understand your question. If you're asking if the DPP is scare-mongering over Tibet, then yes, their candidate has alluded to a "second Tibet" should the KMT gain the presidency. However, I don't think Taiwan is instigating any disturbances in Tibet if that's what you're asking. That's pretty far-fetched.
3.21.2008 6:56pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Tibet has been a part of China since at least the Yuan dynasty and has never been internationally recognized as a sovereign state.
But what on earth does that China have to do with the Beijing dictatorship? Loosely speaking, they cover some of the same territory, but there's no continuity between the two.
3.21.2008 7:15pm
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
Why are there disturbances in Tibet? I thought that the Tibetans were grateful for the construction of the very expensive Qingzang Railway between Tibet and China. I think that some Tibetans are taking advantage of the upcoming Beijing Olympics as an opportunity to embarrass China.

We have missed opportunities to reduce tensions between China and its neighbors. For example, the USA should have insisted on Chinese recognition of Taiwanese independence as a precondition for letting China take Taiwan's permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
3.21.2008 7:57pm
advisory opinion:
That's like asking what on earth Turkey has to do with the Ottoman Empire. In both cases, the modern states are the successor states of its imperial predecessor, inheriting its territorial boundaries as well as treaty obligations. The continuity is manifest, since the successor state takes over the legal personality and obligations of its predecessor. The only difference from China is that in the case of Turkey, its territory was much diminished by the Treaty of Sevres, which created the British and French mandates in the Middle East. The modern Turkish state as the successor state to the Ottoman Empire inherited its borders as determined by the treaty signed by its predecessor.

Much in the same way, Serbia is regarded as the successor state to Yugoslavia, Russia to the Soviet Union. Etc. The ABMT was in force between the United States and the Soviet Union and its successor state Russia for 30 years. Continuity isn't interrupted just because of state succession. Otherwise treaties and the agreed demarcation of borders would go stale overnight.
3.21.2008 8:59pm
Nathan Sharfi:
Quoth advisory opinion:


Given China's relative restraint over the Taiwan issue - as long as the bottomline of independence is not breached - why in the world are agitators like Kopel trying to stoke Taiwanese independence knowing full well China would have little choice but to go to war in the event? It's mindless.


Pardon my ignorance, but if the Taiwanese declared independence, couldn't the CCP just decide "hey, let's not bother invading the island"? What's forcing the CCP to invade Taiwan other than the CCP itself?
3.21.2008 9:04pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
That's like asking what on earth Turkey has to do with the Ottoman Empire.
No, it's more like asking what on earth Turkey has to do with the Byzantine Empire. Nobody regards the former as a successor state to the latter, do they?
3.21.2008 9:55pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
We have missed opportunities to reduce tensions between China and its neighbors. For example, the USA should have insisted on Chinese recognition of Taiwanese independence as a precondition for letting China take Taiwan's permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Er, there's a minor problem with that typically ahistorical claim by Fafarman: Taiwan wasn't proclaiming, or interested in, independence at the time. You can't recognize an independence of people who aren't asking for independence.
3.21.2008 9:58pm
advisory opinion:
Because it has said it would do so repeatedly in the hopes of deterring Taiwanese independence, and that it would be a casus belli. NOT doing so would show them up to be a paper tiger, and severely undermine perceptions of their military resolve. Letting Taiwan also threatens the territorial integrity of the Republic: if China is a soft touch over Taiwan, what more Tibet, or Xinjiang?

Not hard to grasp really.

Nobody forced Israel into the Six Day War either, but having declared the closure of the Straits of Tiran to be a casus belli, Israel had little choice but to respond, or else forfeit a good chunk of their deterrent power.

One of the bedrock principles of Israeli defense policy is deterrence. For China, it's territorial integrity. It's an existential thing.
3.21.2008 10:05pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

And rightly they should.


wrongly they do.
3.21.2008 10:13pm
advisory opinion:
Nieporent: the Ottoman Empire would be considered a successor 'state' to the Byzantines and the modern Turks to the Ottomans. But since the concept of the Westphalian state is a fairly modern one, calling an empire the 'successor state' of an earlier empire naturally sounds odd. Your argument fails as applied to the Qing Dynasty because it is a post-Westphalian dynasty. So for purposes of the Tibet debate, the Qing pacification of Tibet suffices to demonstrate Chinese sovereignty over the province. Whereas nothing remains of the Byzantine to Ottoman transition that would matter to the modern Turkish state, the continuity in China is far more pronounced, with dynasty succeeding dynasty retaining sovereignty over Tibet, with the Qing post-dating the invention of the Westphalian state.

Why are you denying the historical continuity of China? It would be like denying the historical continuity England.
3.21.2008 10:30pm
advisory opinion:
Bowen, get real. Tibetans were randomly attacking Han Chinese on the streets and the violence had ethnic and racial undertones to it. If whites were lynching and attacking black people with impunity and the state was impotent to stop them, the Federal government would be sending in troops too. As happened during the Rodney King riots. Get off the high horse.
3.21.2008 10:39pm
advisory opinion:
And during Katrina, National Guard troops were authorized to 'shoot to kill' looters, hoodlums, and other riff raff if necessary. Yet apparently, when a third world country like China does it to restore order, it's an outrage. Get some perspective, yes?
3.21.2008 10:49pm
Wugong:
the Qing pacification of Tibet suffices to demonstrate Chinese sovereignty over the province.

Or more accurately, it would suffice to demonstrate Manchu sovereignty over the province. The Qing was not a "Chinese" dynasty if by "Chinese" you mean the Han ethnic group (as is the most common definition of the term). The claim that Tibet has been part of "China" since the Yuan (that make earlier), is also odd. How do you define "China" during the Yuan? Presumably as part of the Mongol empire, right? Tibet was also part of the Mongol empire. Perhaps Outer Mongolia should stake its claim.

Why are you denying the historical continuity of China?

Why are you asserting it, especially when it comes to the ROC or the PRC periods? The strongest claim to historical continuity from the Han dyn. on (it's really a completely absurd claim for before then, save for the few years of the Qin) is a cultural one, based on a shared set of texts and governmental structure among the upper-classes. The ROC and the PRC both declared that cultural inheritance null and void, especially in the case of the PRC. The CCP is a political and military entity, dominated by the Han ethnic group, that controls a certain land mass, parts of which were controlled by ethnic Han ruling families in the past (but not for most of the 300 years prior to PRC rule). Their claim to Tibet is, in reality, based on military force, not historical precedence. Now it's still a strong claim as such, and one that I personally think the Tibetans have no real chance of challenging, but let's not swallow the CCP rhetoric whole, if you please.
3.21.2008 10:59pm
Wugong:
If whites were lynching and attacking black people with impunity and the state was impotent to stop them, the Federal government would be sending in troops too.

Or for a more accurate analogy, if American Indians in the 1890's were killing settlers who had stolen their land, the US gov't would send in troops. Of course they would, but that that doesn't mean they were morally right to do so. I have no doubt that the PRC will attack Taiwan if it declares formal independence, but it would still be a morally outrageous act.
3.21.2008 11:02pm
advisory opinion:
Or more accurately, it would suffice to demonstrate Manchu sovereignty over the province.

Nonsense. The House of Windsor is German in origin but became Anglicized. Is the sovereign of England any less English because of her German origins? Your argument is fatuous.

Likewise the Manchus and even the Mongols of the earlier Yuan dynasty Sinicized themselves over the centuries. And seeing as Manchuria is part of China now, the successor state doctrine once again applies, and sovereignty accrues to the PRC.

Why are you asserting it, especially when it comes to the ROC or the PRC periods?

In order to demonstrate sovereignty over the province now known as the Tibet Autonomous Region. Your excursion into blood, soil, and cultural inheritance is an exercise in irrelevance. Sovereignty and state succession doesn't depend on blood and soil arguments, so why are you bringing it up? It's not an argument that the PRC makes.

The ROC and the PRC both declared that cultural inheritance null and void

Since when? I don't even know what this is supposed to mean. Have the commies officially declared that they're not Chinese in the cultural sense? What a ridiculous assertion to make.
3.21.2008 11:12pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Nieporent: the Ottoman Empire would be considered a successor 'state' to the Byzantines and the modern Turks to the Ottomans. But since the concept of the Westphalian state is a fairly modern one, calling an empire the 'successor state' of an earlier empire naturally sounds odd. Your argument fails as applied to the Qing Dynasty because it is a post-Westphalian dynasty. So for purposes of the Tibet debate, the Qing pacification of Tibet suffices to demonstrate Chinese sovereignty over the province. Whereas nothing remains of the Byzantine to Ottoman transition that would matter to the modern Turkish state, the continuity in China is far more pronounced, with dynasty succeeding dynasty retaining sovereignty over Tibet, with the Qing post-dating the invention of the Westphalian state.
Leaving aside the sort of odd anachronism (anageoism?) of using Westphalia as a standard for east Asia, you were trying to link it to the Yuan dynasty, which was what I was responding to. There's no historical continuity between the Yuan and modern China.

As for the Qing, if TIbet, why not Mongolia? Both were pretty much independent once the Qing fell. The only distinction between them is that the Russians forcibly severed Mongolia from China in the early 20th century, while Tibet wasn't "lucky" enough to have an international patron to protect it from the new, unrelated Chinese regime reasserting itself.
3.21.2008 11:17pm
advisory opinion:
I have no doubt that the PRC will attack Taiwan if it declares formal independence, but it would still be a morally outrageous act.

Taiwan has been historically a part of China since the Qing dynasty. No land is being "stolen" should China reassert de facto sovereignty over the island. Lincoln didn't let the Secessionist South get away with seceding either. Was going to war against the Confederate states a "morally outrageous act" as well? If no, then your morality is elastic. If yes, then congratulations, at least you're consistent.
3.21.2008 11:20pm
advisory opinion:
Leaving aside the sort of odd anachronism (anageoism?) of using Westphalia as a standard for east Asia

Not an "anachronism". The entire modern framework of the international legal order is predicated on the notion of the Westphalian state. And of course there is continuity between the Yuan dynasty and modern China. Saying "there isn't" is like saying that there's no continuity between Tudor England and modern Britain. Certainly the successive royal houses were the successor sovereigns to England. Just as the successive dynasties of China were the successor sovereigns to China.

As for the Qing, if TIbet, why not Mongolia?

Because China recognized Mongolian independence from the outset. It never relinquished sovereignty to Tibet, which is today internationally recognized as part of China by just about every country on the planet. Simple really.
3.21.2008 11:31pm
Wugong:
The House of Windsor is German in origin but became Anglicized. Is the sovereign of England any less English because of her German origins? Your argument is fatuous.

You display some impressive ignorance here. You do realize that the Manchus INVADED and overthrew the Ming, killing millions in the process, right? Last I checked, that's not how the Windsors came to power in England. The sovereigns of the Qing were very much NOT Chinese, though you are correct that they became Sinicized by the end of the dynasty. Of course ALL Qing proclamations until the bitter end were made in Chinese and Manchu. The British royal family does not make proclamations in Germany. Much of the opposition to the Qing near the end of the dynasty was based on a claim they the Chinese needed to return China to the Chinese. Your argument is fatuous.

Your excursion into blood, soil, and cultural inheritance is an exercise in irrelevance. Sovereignty and state succession doesn't depend on blood and soil arguments, so why are you bringing it up?

So how are you using the term "China"? Or more importantly, what Chinese term that has been used since the Yuan (or pick your dynasty) do you think is the equivalent of "China"? If you are claiming that Chinese notions of "China" don't have to do with blood, soil, and cultural inheritance then you are simply woefully ignorant about Chinese history and the historical views of the people you are calling "Chinese."


The ROC and the PRC both declared that cultural inheritance null and void

Since when? I don't even know what this is supposed to mean. Have the commies officially declared that they're not Chinese in the cultural sense?


If you are assuming political continuity from dynasty to dynasty, then the only thing you have to hang that argument on is the general continuity of the government bureaucracy based on the exam system and the cultural inheritance it tested. Are you seriously going to claim that the PRC did not do its best to utterly destroy that inheritance? (And I'm not saying that's a bad thing for them to have done). Many of the activists instrumental in the founding of the CCP seriously considered eliminating any "dialects" of Chinese as the national language. The PRC has certainly rejected almost all of what an educated person in the Ming would have considered key to his personal identification with the state and with other "Chinese." But again, how are you defining the term? Is it purely an ethnic designation for you? Are Tibetans Chinese? What about the Yi or any of the other non-Han ethnic groups?
3.21.2008 11:37pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Not an "anachronism". The entire modern framework of the international legal order is predicated on the notion of the Westphalian state.
Westphalia was a treaty among a handful of European powers; its applicability to 17th century Asia is a little bit of a stretch. At most, it applied in Europe, and by Europe I mean northwestern Europe.

And of course there is continuity between the Yuan dynasty and modern China. Saying "there isn't" is like saying that there's no continuity between Tudor England and modern Britain. Certainly the successive royal houses were the successor sovereigns to England. Just as the successive dynasties of China were the successor sovereigns to China.
First, the Yuan long predates Westphalia, so even under your own terms the argument doesn't work. Second, as Wugong points out above, the Yuan weren't even running an independent country; they were part of the Mongol empire. There was no "China" there.

Second, when the Qing collapsed, just about everyone declared independence. I understand ideologically why someone would want to claim continuity between the Qing and the ROC, but there's no factual reason to do so.

Because China recognized Mongolian independence from the outset. It never relinquished sovereignty to Tibet, which is today internationally recognized as part of China by just about every country on the planet. Simple really.
From the outset? Not at all. Mongolia and Tibet both became effectively independent when the Qing collpased; China didn't recognize Mongolian independence until post-WW2, when it had no choice. There's nothing Westphalian about that.
3.22.2008 12:03am
Wugong:
Taiwan has been historically a part of China since the Qing dynasty. No land is being "stolen" should China reassert de facto sovereignty over the island. Lincoln didn't let the Secessionist South get away with seceding either. Was going to war against the Confederate states a "morally outrageous act" as well?

Are you actually part of the PRC government? Because you have the line down perfectly. I suppose you also think that Lin Biao should have been condemned together with Confucius during the Cultural Revolution. At least you made it clear what a moral midget you really are.

Taiwan was barely part of the Qing, then the Qing GAVE IT TO JAPAN, who gave it back to the ROC, not the PRC. When has the PRC EVER had sovereignty over the island of Taiwan? Do you really think Taiwan is to the PRC as the Confederacy is to the Union in any meaningful way? Give me a break. And if you have actually lived in both places for lengthy periods of time (as I have) and STILL think that Taiwan being taken over by the PRC would be a good thing, then you are truly a lost cause. I might as well try having a dialogue with David Duke about race relations.
3.22.2008 12:05am
advisory opinion:
You do realize that the Manchus INVADED and overthrew the Ming, killing millions in the process, right? Last I checked, that's not how the Windsors came to power in England.

So what. Their means of coming to power has nothing to do with whether they were successor sovereigns to China. William of Orange INVADED England as well. That makes the Act of Settlement promulgated during his reign null and void? Obviously not, since it's still in effect today. How they "came to power" is utterly irrelevant. Your sur-response is to such a degree fatuous that the fatuousness of your original response pales in quivering comparison.

So how are you using the term "China"? Or more importantly, what Chinese term that has been used since the Yuan (or pick your dynasty) do you think is the equivalent of "China"?

I'm using the term as it refers to the sovereign state of China. No blood and soil arguments need be invoked.

If you are claiming that Chinese notions of "China" don't have to do with blood, soil, and cultural inheritance then you are simply woefully ignorant about Chinese history and the historical views of the people you are calling "Chinese."

Imbecilic twaddle. I am claiming that the notion of China qua sovereign state under the international legal order has nothing to do with blood, soil and cultural inheritance, but everything to do with territoriality and soverign control over its boundaries. I'm not talking about warm fuzzy notions of what being Chinese "is". You're confusing such notions with the PRC's legal claims, which has nothing to do with blood and soil since on its own terms, it describes itself as a state of "many nations". That alone is inconsistent with your blundering confusion that national sovereignty has anything to do with ethnic Chineseness. Nationality, like sovereignty, goes beyond race. That's why there are 'China' Chinese and 'non-Chinese' Chinese. The two concepts are distinct.

If you are assuming political continuity from dynasty to dynasty, then the only thing you have to hang that argument on is the general continuity of the government bureaucracy based on the exam system and the cultural inheritance it tested.

No. Territoriality and sovereignty is enough. And it appears that you can't actually demonstrate that the PRC declared its cultural inheritance null and void. As suspected, you were being completely ludicrous earlier. I knew you would make some kind of lame 'Cultural Revolution oh shit' argument in order to make your point, and indeed you have provided a variant of it. Basing your notion of Chineseness on the arbitrary standard of the Ming scholar! Which apparently, the PRC doesn't countenance. What utter piffle. By that standard, few Chinese were Chinese since the vast majority were peasants, only a minority became mandarins or scholars. As for dialects, it is precisely the effort put into standardizing putonghua as the national language that demonstrates the PRC's zeal in creating a national identity that transcends regional factionalism. Or as it were, a Chinese "identity". Which means that your claim that the PRC rejects its cultural heritage is simply false.

Stop making absurd claims already. People can tell.
3.22.2008 12:28am
David M. Nieporent (www):
So how are you using the term "China"? Or more importantly, what Chinese term that has been used since the Yuan (or pick your dynasty) do you think is the equivalent of "China"?

I'm using the term as it refers to the sovereign state of China.
Er, then your argument is entirely circular.
3.22.2008 12:36am
advisory opinion:
Nieporent, don't waste my time. Under international law, the concept of the sovereign state is Westphalian. Hence, its application to China and its sovereign claim to Tibet. The Yuan dynasty incorporation of Tibet into China may be construed as historical evidence that this sovereignty extended to a time before the international legal order was even in existence. If anything, it buttresses the claim that ONCE the Westphalian notion of the sovereign state came into existence, China was already asserting sovereignty over Tibet. It strengthens the claim considerably.

And once again, China was not an indistinct amorphous realm in "the Mongol Empire". I've already mentioned how the Mongols Sinicized themselves, much like how English sovereigns of foreign extraction Anglicized themselves. Except for the first Mongol emperor who claimed dominion over the Greater Khanate, ALL subsequent emperors only claimed to be emperors of China, and no more. This comports with the facts of sovereignty. Don't try to mess it with your inchoate idea of a greater Mongolian empire that was not even claimed by the latter emperors of the Yuan dynasty.

Second, when the Qing collapsed, just about everyone declared independence.

You mean civil war broke out, and the communists won. "Just about everyone declared independence" during the English Civil War too. Was continuity shattered then? Obviously not. Same with the American Civil War. If you think that there was no continuity between Reconstruction America and the America of the Founding Fathers just because a few states declared themselves seceded, you are delusional.

As for Mongolia, the PRC could not recognize her until the denouement of China's civil war. Of course nobody was paying attention during the war of all against all. Yet once the communists started to consolidate power, and reformed a sovereign government, they acknowledged Mongolian independence. Hence agreeing on the boundaries that demarcate Mongolia from China proper. If you can't tell the difference between recognizing sovereignty, and want to quibble with a completely trivial aspect of what I said - like the exact timing of recognition - then you just aren't being serious. Deal with the argument.
3.22.2008 12:49am
advisory opinion:
Nieporent, I plainly defined the state in terms of territoriality and sovereignty. If you want to play selective quotes and omit the rest of what I wrote, don't bother.
3.22.2008 12:51am
Visitor Again:
I don't think Taiwan is instigating any disturbances in Tibet if that's what you're asking. That's pretty far-fetched.

Yes, it is, but what I was asking was whether the timing of the Tibetan disturbances had anything to do with the DP--and perhaps that was inartfully phrased. What I meant was whether the Tibetan dissidents timed their uprising to coincide with the Taiwanese election--rather than, say, doing it closer to the Olympic Games.

The view of some commenters here is that China does not have the rights of a sovereign power. It must cater to the rabble. It must yield its territories.

Look, you might as well get used to trying to be reasonable with a nation of a billion plus. We're going to have to deal with them for a long, long time. Be patient. They'll get better.
3.22.2008 12:57am
advisory opinion:
At least you made it clear what a moral midget you really are.

Wugong loses it. Game over.
3.22.2008 12:59am
advisory opinion:
Visitor Again, I wouldn't rule that out. Possibly anticipating tight security in the run up to the Olympics, it was 'now or never' for maximal publicity. That, plus the Taiwan presidential elections meant a confluence of events and an opportunity that is too juicy to pass up.

Slightly more extravagant rumors have it that China could have done some snake-baiting, rousing the rabble before the Olympics so that the malcontent elements can be smoked out before the Games. It could explain the "complete failure of intelligence" the Chinese seemingly experienced in Lhasa. Or at least it looked like a complete failure of the Chinese intelligence apparatus there. Anyway you look at it, it went out of control pretty quickly though. So the CCP apparatchik in charge of Tibet probably has his number dialed already.
3.22.2008 1:06am
Wugong:
I'm using the term as it refers to the sovereign state of China.

So, China is China. Nice.

The problem is that you are making arguments for a historical entity called "China" that the PRC is the rightful successor to and that that "succession" should have some sort of real political and moral meaning. But what you are calling "China" has changed dramatically in terms of its territory over time and NO DYNASTY ever called itself "China" or any equivalent. That's why I want to know what Chinese term you are translating as "China." Is it 中國? 天下?四海之內?大清國? You still haven't answered the question of what your definition of "Chinese" is. Does it mean a citizen of the PRC? If that's what you mean, fine, but that's not how people in China would use the term. No one in China would call a Tibetan a 中國人、華人、漢人, etc. You are certainly consistent in perfectly parroting the CCP line on Chinese history and the PRC's present territorial claims, but that doesn't mean you are correct.

Beyond what you think about the legitimacy of its claims, do you think it would be a good thing for the PRC to take over Taiwan? Would you really rather live under the political system of the PRC or that of Taiwan? Forget the Cultural Revolution (towards which your apparent "it's meaningless" attitude is stunning, by the way), how about now? Do you deny that the PRC has never had political, military, or legal control over Taiwan and that Taiwan has a representative democracy? Would you really rather see a brutal dictatorship (and I know people who were killed in 1989, so don't even pretend that that's not what it is) rule Taiwan than a freely elected government?
3.22.2008 1:15am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Advisory, you don't seem to accept the distinction between, e.g., the complete collapse of a country (Chinese civil war) and the continuity of government, with some fighting (US civil war).
3.22.2008 1:22am
stevelaudig (mail):
Foreign intervention in China made their civil war significantly different, from a causation standpoint, from the U.S. Civil war. It's "civil war" was more of a knock on from the Foreign Powers' [U.S., G.B. Russia, France, Japan, and others] project to dismember China. There was no similar dismemberment project for the U.S. by foreign powers. Though it seems France was doing a little nibbling mucking about in Mexico and the perfidious English wouldn't have minded so much for Confederate success.
3.22.2008 11:38am
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
David M. Nieporent said,

"We have missed opportunities to reduce tensions between China and its neighbors. For example, the USA should have insisted on Chinese recognition of Taiwanese independence as a precondition for letting China take Taiwan's permanent seat on the UN Security Council."

Er, there's a minor problem with that typically ahistorical claim by Fafarman: Taiwan wasn't proclaiming, or interested in, independence at the time. You can't recognize an independence of people who aren't asking for independence.

All China has to do is tell Taiwan, "you're independent -- goodbye."
3.23.2008 8:18am
David M. Nieporent (www):
So your argument is that if China refused to recognize Taiwan's independence, we should have allowed Taiwan, which to refused to recognize Taiwan's independence, to hold the seat. Good thinking.
3.23.2008 10:22pm
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
We muffed our big chance to prevent the current tensions between China and Taiwan.
3.25.2008 1:56am