Above, the Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722) – the longest-reigning emperor in the history of China. Under his 61 years of reign from 1661 to 1722, the empire improved in wealth and most of the time enjoyed peace and prosperity.
The late Lord Marsh told a funny anecdote on the BBC Radio 4’s “Any Questions” once. It was an amusing incident in 1971 shortly after he became Chairman of the British Railways Board. At the time Mr Marsh as he then was 43 and was still quite youthful in looks. He was walking into the headquarters of British Rail and was wearing a leather jacket and was dressed casually. The doorman completely unaware of who the man approaching him was stopped him as asked precisely that. “I’m Richard Marsh” British Rail’s new chairman said smiling. “And what’s your business here?” questioned the doorman.
“I’m the new Chairman of British Rail.” replied Mr Marsh.
At this the doorman was of the opinion that this pleasant young fellow was pulling his leg and replied in jocular tone, “Yes! And I’m the Emperor of China!”
Sadly, Lord Marsh passed away in July 2011.
The subject matter of this article is the same as Friday 22nd’s subject matter: Taiwan. The previous article has been slightly altered with the addition of one word and the font/type of a sentence being made bold. Apart from correction of typos, articles are not normally altered after publication. This slight alteration is in response to a comment that the suggestion put forward was naïve. We would reject this as the article makes it clear that there is no possibility of the suggestion being taken up. The suggestion was made to illustrate the intractable nature of this potentially serious problem.
At the moment tensions over Taiwan – the natural and reasonable wish for the Taiwanese for democratic self determination and the conflicting wish of the Chinese government and most of the mainland population of China for Taiwan to be re-unified as part of China – are diplomatic.
These two desires are incompatible. If EITHER side push their wishes too far the result for BOTH and the world will be disastrous. Especially if Mr Donald Trump becomes 45th President of the United States of America in January 2017.
Sadly and depressingly, fantasy and politics are intertwined in the mindsets of so many people across the world. It is both depressing and worrying that the term “Walter Mitty” can accurately be applied to many politicians across the world.
Because of this and because of the potentially catastrophic consequences of the Taiwan-China situation “going pear shaped” this organ feels that it is important to give much more attention to this situation that is given to it by such as the BBC.
One of the aspects about China that has been in the news recently is the discussion and disagreements in the EU about granting China MES or Market Economy Status. The British government is very much in favour as London will be a big beneficiary of this.
For more information, GOTO: http://thediplomat.com/2016/01/why-the-eu-should-grant-china-market-economy-status/
The other aspects that the mass media and the BBC have reported upon is the slowdown in the Chinese economy and the dumping of Chinese steel in the EU.
These things, whilst serious are not in the same ball park insofar as the seriousness of a conflict flaring up over Taiwan. And it could, if either side is reckless. The trouble is that the Taiwan-China situation is not isolated from other tensions in the region and indeed could well be affected by them. There are tensions regarding territorial disputes between China and Japan and Vietnam. Then of course we have North Korea.
Currently there appears no prospect whatsoever of any form of agreement between Taiwan and China over the island’s status. What is increasing the tension are the increasingly loud wishes expressed by the Taiwanese for self determination. As stated before, a formal settlement is an extraordinary remote prospect. There is more chance of Tim Farron joining UKIP than President Xi Jinping agreeing to Taiwan formerly becoming the Republic of Taiwan!
The best that can be planned for is a form of long term stability. A status that both sides can live with.
To understand what form such long term stable solution could take it is important to analyse the situation in detail and discover why it is the Chinese find the idea of Taiwanese independence so unacceptable. It is this: The Chinese government and most of the Chinese people maintain that Taiwan is part of China. As such formal establishment – by recognising what currently exists – of an independent sovereign state of Taiwan is both intolerable and unacceptable. Those who think that this widely held (in mainland China) opinion will change any time soon are themselves being naïve.
It is therefore important to focus upon this one aspect as such has both to be kept in mind and must form any part of any solution.
FACT: Any possible solution must in and of itself must by definition assert that Taiwan is part of China. During the period 1949 to 1975 there was a form of agreement between the Communists ruling China and those who ruled Taiwan.
In December 1949, Chiang Kai-shek evacuated his government to Taiwan and made Taipei the temporary capital of the Republic of China (ROC). Some 2 million people, consisting mainly of soldiers, members of the ruling Kuomintang and intellectual and business elites, were evacuated from mainland China to Taiwan at that time, adding to the earlier population of approximately six million. In addition, the ROC government took to Taipei many national treasures and much of China’s gold reserves and foreign currency reserves.
From this point onwards, the Kuomintang was reduced to control of Taiwan, Kinmen, Matsu Islands, and two major islands of Dongsha Islands and Nansha Islands. The Kuomintang continued to claim sovereignty over all “China”, which it defined to include mainland China, Taiwan, Outer Mongolia and other areas. On mainland China, the victorious Communists claimed they ruled the sole and only China (which they claimed included Taiwan) and that the Republic of China no longer existed.
Martial law, declared on Taiwan in May 1949, continued to be in effect after the central government relocated to Taiwan. It was not repealed until 1987, and was used as a way to suppress the political opposition in the intervening years.
As stated in Friday’s article, Taiwan is now a properly functioning democracy and a developed advanced “western” market economy. Taiwan’s population is nearly the size of Australia’s, Taiwan is nearly as large as Switzerland and Taiwan’s GDP is factionally smaller than Australia’s.
It would be a tragedy for this successful little nation were to be wrecked through bigoted stupidity.
It would also have catastrophic geopolitical consequences. We would all suffer.
A formal settling of the matter is impossible. The best that can be hoped for is a mutally agreed stable stand-off.
To achieve this one must enter the world of fantasy politics.
At this point many British Gazette readers will assume their Editor is going off his head (again?).
But no. We would remind you Dear Reader that Fantasy Politics are in fact day to day reality in today’s United Kingdom.
We have a Prime Minster and Leader of the Opposition both declaring that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is an independent sovereign state – when any reading of the Treaty of Lisbon will show it is NOT!
These same two Walter Mittys assert that the UK is a leading power in the world and point to the UK’s P5 status at the UNO. They also assert that the country can get by with much of it’s electricity generated by wind turbines located in the North Sea and that human emissions of CO2 are heating up the planet!
If these things are true, your editor has the looks of George Clooney, the voice of Richard Burton, the wisdom of Solomon and a queue of female admirers stretching from his home to Cape Cornwall!
NB: I see no such queue!
So, we have established that fantasy politics are not confined to President Xi Jinping and his “so-called” Communists.
We therefore have a curious situation where President Xi Jinping finds it less disagreeable for a government of Taiwan to claim sovereignty over all of China whilst only practising actual sovereignty over Taiwan than that same government declaring that Taiwan is a completely separate entity and has “nothing to do” with China – in much the same way that Iceland has “nothing to do” with the UK. In other words, the people’s Republic of China could live with the authorities in Taiwan maintaining that they were the Republic of China.
Well General Chiang Kai-shek is dead and the Republic of China is no more.
However, another entity could be resurrected: the Empire of China.
There is in fact a pretender to the Chinese Imperial throne.
He is a certain Jin Yuzhang. Since 1999 this gentleman has served as the only non-Communist Deputy Governor of Chongwen district and also holds the position of Deputy Director of the Beijing Ethnic Affairs Committee. He has a daughter, Jin Xin (born 1976), who is a computer science graduate and is employed at China Electronics Company Limited. Jin Yuzhang’s younger brother and designated heir is Dr. Jin Yuquan, vice-president of the Energy and Environment Protection College of the Beijing University of Technology.
Herewith a completely hypothetical scenario:
Mr Jin Yuzhang, Ms Jin Xin, Dr. Jin Yuquan and their families relocate to Taiwan. Mr Jin Yuzhang is declared Emperor of China (all of it) and the constitution of Taiwan is altered to show it is an Imperial province of the Chinese Empire. As such His Imperial Majesty would appoint a Provincial Governor who would carry out all the functions of a ceremonial “head of state”. The Provincial Governor would be appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Taiwan – the democratic head of government. The difference between the Governor of the Imperial province of Taiwan and the Governor General of Australia would be titular. With those duties of a ceremonial head of state being performed by this appointee, the Emperor would have no other function and if he were to follow the pattern of his forebears, would remain aloof and out of sight of his subjects. In fact it would be most satisfactory were His Imperial Majesty to take up residence outside Taiwan and China – say Switzerland?
Of course the diplomatic non status of Taiwan’s current representation would continue. Taiwan’s army navy and air force would become the Imperial Chinese [service arm] and beautiful young ladies from Taiwan entering beauty contents would be Miss Empire of China.