It is often erroneously reported that China and Taiwan split amid
a Civil War at the end of the Second World War.
In truth, Taiwan is a creation of the USA.
Up until the eve of the Korean War, the USA officially declared
it would not defend the Nationalist or Guomindang (Kuomintang)
government of Generallissimo Chiang Kai-shek, which had sought refuge
on the island of Taiwan (Formosa) along with approximately two million
people, the remains of his armies, and most of China's gold reserves
and imperial art treasures.
However, the start of the Korean War in 1950 brought the mighty
seventh fleet of the USA Navy into the Taiwan Strait and began a
long-standing American policy of defending the Chinese government
on Taiwan from its historical and ideological rival on mainland
Over the past few years, the formation of a type of popular democracy
on Taiwan has changed its political landscape. For the first time,
in 2000, the Nationalist Party was swept from power.
The current situation on Taiwan is very uncertain. The new national
government, led by Chen Shui-bian, is walking a tight rope between
business interests that want direct links to China (links between
outlying islands of Taiwan and Xiamen on the Fujian coastline of
China began in 2001) and a legislature still dominated by the ousted
Increased direct interaction with the Chinese mainland is spearheaded
by the Taiwan government, the provinicial government separate from
the national government.
The new politics on Taiwan is complicated by a large population
of native Taiwanese who are not interested in the debate over reproachment
with the mainland, and the majority of islanders who want to maintain
the status quo, that is neither independence nor unification.
Is Taiwan China?
The word "China" is in common usage throughout all languages.
At the heart of the China/Taiwan issue is use of the word "China."
Officially one is the People's Republic of China and the other the
Republic of China.
It is generally accepted throughout the world that there is but
one China and that China is a great power, a civilization (think
cuisine if nothing else!), a force.
It is impossible to accept the notion that there are "Chinas" in
the world. Just as writers and politicians have pointed out for
centuries that there is but one "England," and only one "France,"
"Russia," or "America" (which always denotes the USA).
For there to be a Taiwan and a China in the world Taiwan would
have to abandon being Chinese. For if it were to remain Chinese,
Taiwan could only be Taiwan, China, even if an independent nation.
Global perception (and historical reality) is that there is only
one Chinese civilization on planet earth.
Despite the existence of a largely non-Chinese aboriginal population
(who have almost all either co-opted or been absorbed by Chinese
culture), everything about Taiwan is inseparable from Chinese civilization.
For the government of Taiwan and the people living on the economically
sophisticated island to abandon being Chinese would be to reject
and deny not only the existence of China but also its greatness.