A date which will live in infamy, 79 years ago. The Chinese warned the Japanese not to attack America for fear of waking a sleeping giant. Now, the Chinese are speeding against their own advice. The move will likely be against Taiwan as a remote and indirect attack on the US. But, the fight between China and Taiwan could have been avoided. The wise can learn from foreseeable history, even when that history has not yet happened.
Taiwan and China are both run by governments with histories of cruelty, corruption, and incompetence. Taiwan is an emerging and aspiring democracy; China resists democracy. Taiwan is cleaning up its cruelty of the past; China increases cruelty today. Chinese Communist tanks killed thousands of unarmed protestors at Tienanmen Square in 1989; that party remains in power through today. Chiang Kai-shek led an even larger massacre in Taiwan in 1947; his party remained in power throughout Western trade and still exists today, though without total control. Now, these two face war. Would either have the money to bloody the other had the West simply demanded justice and order within their borders proportionate to any agreements of trade?
American Congress continues to push a bipartisan and unanimous agenda for Taiwan. The US wants Taiwan to import meat from livestock fed with ractopamine, something Taiwanese want no part of. The US sells weapons to Taiwan to defend against China—which builds its weapons with money made from exports to the US. Has the US been friend or enemy?
If we look at US and Western policy toward China and Taiwan over the last 70 years, we see pursuit of money, with a blind eye toward massacre of their own citizens, xenophobia toward their foreigners, all trailed by escalation toward war. That has improved, but only in the last 4 years and too little, too late.
From 1947 through 1989, Taiwan should have had limited trade, China none. Had that been Western policy, today both might be much more progressed in technology, just, orderly, wealthy, and most of all peaceful.
Taiwanese continue to grow and mature as a democracy. China continues to pursue control and alienate its neighbors. They each have their lessons to learn. But, not all help is helpful. It might not have come to war if the West had sooner insisted that nations learn a few lessons before bestowing wealth which Taiwan and China could have gained on their own with simple justice and order 70 years ago. Instead, we’re nearing the end of a path that started with greed and finishes in war.