Alain Brossat

 

It was towards the end of the 1960s that the Chinese nationalist party—the Kuomintang, defeated in the civil war, having withdrawn to the island of Formosa (Taiwan) over which it exercised its sovereignty in the most despotic mode—lost all hope of regaining possession of mainland China by force. However, the doctrine of reconquest intended to drive out those whom Chiang Kai-Shek and his successors persisted in designating as the Communist “thieves, bandits, criminals and traitors” remained in force until Lee Teng-hui, elected under the label of the KMT, but partisan of a liquidation of the after-effects of the authoritarian regime and of a democratic transition, declared: “We will no longer seek to unify China by force” (April 30, 1991).

It should be noted that in this statement, which announced a major turning point in the policy of the Taiwanese entity vis-à-vis the Chinese state, now recognized by a large part of the states of the globe as the sole legitimate representative of Chinese sovereignty, the reformer Lee did not renounce to the notion of one China; a China of which, quite naturally, Taiwan would be part. Simply, according to the change of doctrine he promoted, what changed radically, on the side of the Taiwanese side, and unilaterally, was the regime of hostility in the relationship between the two Chinese state entities.

By publicly declaring that the Taiwanese side renounced the use of force in order to reclaim the mainland and thus reverse the outcome of the civil war, Lee implicitly suspended the still openly ongoing civil war as long as the two sides threatened each other with destroy each other by force. In this very sense, his declaration took note of the victory of the Chinese Communists as a kind of historic verdict and, consequently, it surreptitiously but distinctly opened, for Taiwan, the way of autonomy, of a progressive separation from the historic fate of mainland China.

It is in this very capacity that Lee paved the way for the electoral defeat of the KMT and the accession to power of the DPP with the victory, in the 2000 presidential elections, of Chen Shui-Ban, the precursor of the increasingly uninhibited separatists who currently wield power over the island.

 

Lee Teng-hui’s statement is of capital importance in its very ambiguity: it cannot be freed from the general conditions of the civil war; it implicitly takes note of the conflict between two state entities over Chinese sovereignty. It could only really do on one condition or another, which are mutually exclusive: declaring null the sovereignty established in Formosa by the nationalist regime of Chiang and therefore recognizing that of mainland China on the island, or, conversely, formally proclaiming the independence of the island at the risk of exposing itself to an invasion by the continental power.

Lee’s political skill is to wiggle between these two pitfalls while managing to move the lines of the confrontation. Interestingly enough, it is the question of the hostility regime which constitutes the major stake of the inflection (of the displacement) that it proposes. Failing to have the means to proclaim, unilaterally the end of the Chinese civil war, which has become, at a distance, a Sino-Chinese civil war (but without ceasing to be a civil war, a stasis, with the features specific to it), he proposes a doctrinal change suitable for making the terms evolve; of course, its task is made easier by the fact that this war had already de-intensified for a number of years, both because of local factors and others, linked to the end of the Cold war—the two enemies did not trade any more artillery fire between Kinmen and Xiamen, the ROC navy no longer boarded Soviet ships in the Taiwan Strait, communist spies and supposed subversives on the island were no longer shot, etc.

 

But here, as always when enemies are engaged in an endless showdown which, in its first configuration, can only be resolved with the destruction of one of its protagonists, words are important. This is because the direct corollary of President Lee’s statement is that, from now on, the war could continue by other means, less violent, that it could move to other grounds—diplomatic, economic, public (in the face of world public opinion), etc. Suddenly, the enemy—the weapons having been permanently silent—could change its name and become an adversary, a competitor, a rival, etc.

Lee’s declaration is the path to this de-intensification of civil war. Of course, one swallow does not make a summer and it would have taken a lot more than this statement and what surrounds it for the virulence of the civil war at a distance to suddenly fade—let’s not to forget the more or less ephemeral episodes of sudden warming, subsequently, starting with the Straits crisis of 1995-96…

 

But at least this is the beginning of a possible path drawing an exit outside the theater of a civil war placed under the sign of the fight to the death. The meeting in 2015, in Singapore, between the presidents of the two Chinese states, Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-Jeou, appears very precisely as an extension of the orientation thus drawn: from the point of view of the principles proclaimed by the two parties, this meeting constitutes an absolute paradox: neither one nor the other has given up asserting its sovereignty over the territory controlled by the other—Taiwan is, for the power in place in Beijing, only a dissident province; and the Constitution of the Republic of China (Taiwan) claims sovereignty over the whole of Chinese territory, including Tibet, Xinjiang, and the claim over the same areas of the South China Sea—in fact, it has only recently renounced to assert its sovereignty over Mongolia… The two sovereignties (very asymmetric in terms of respective powers) which therefore meet in these circumstances are therefore as incompossible as one can imagine—”on paper”…

And yet, they meet, in full view and at the highest level, on the occasion of this diplomatic summit in Singapore. This event underlines all the importance of a political pragmatics, since it is a question of emancipating oneself from the fixed statements and “principles” on which is based a policy of the intimate enemy identified with the absolute evil. This is a form of diplomacy which goes well beyond what usually constitutes the issue of diplomatic relations or negotiations, which, in the ordinary course of time, are based on pre-existing forms of recognition. Now, here, it is a question of nothing less than “retreating”, of transforming an absolute enemy (in civil wars, the enemy is always hypostasized and utterly criminalized) and an impostor (or a usurper) into an interlocutor.

For the president of the state resulting from the Chinese Revolution and the victory of the communist armies over the nationalist forces, Taiwan is a secessionist province and the Republic of China a state entity devoid of any legal and historical legitimacy. And yet, he meets the elected and legitimate president with regard to the latter’s own internal opinion. This meeting did not have the status of a simple suspension of hostilities, as when the emissaries of two powers engaged in an armed conflict meet in order to negotiate a truce or an armistice. On the contrary, it set in motion a process of mutual recognition based on the delicate balance between prerogatives of pragmatics on the one hand and principles maintained on the other.

 

The consequences of this breach opened in the wall of frozen hostility were immediate—establishment of air relations between the continent and the island, development of economic relations and “cross-strait” trade, increased movement of people between the two Chinese entities, etc. They outline a narrow crest on which a pragmatics of the status quo is likely to progress, the principle of which is simple: on the essential (the historical dispute between the two parties in conflict), each remained on its positions, the conditions of the present obviously not allowing to overcome this colossal obstacle; but in the space opened by the relative balance established between the two powers, a policy can develop, intended to unseal the two protagonists of the conflict of the figure of the civil war, in its truly tyrannical effects. A perspective that will find its axiomatic form in a formula such as “one country (one China), two systems” or even the establishment of a consensus around the figure of the status quo, each of the two parties committing implicitly not to take any initiative likely to jeopardize the fragile balance on which rests the party of realism adopted by both sides.

 

Whether it is purely empirical or arises from in-depth reflection, the wisdom inherent in this common posture derives from this: by leaving time to time, by drawing this kind of no man’s land in which open conflict is indefinitely suspended for lack of being able to be overcome, the parties involved in it open up a space in which the very matrix of the confrontation can be found little by little sent back to the past, perceived as “from another age”, out of date, devoid of any relevance in the present. In other words, the conflict, if it cannot be settled—the Chinese civil war, in its very outcome, opens up the space of an infinite wrong, (the defeated party not being able to bow to the verdict of arms and the victorious party not being able to accept to be dispossessed of the territory on which the defeated one has retreated)—can, thanks to an active pragmatics, enter the path of obsolescence.

 

It is the historical experience of the terrible 20th century itself which shows that we do not fight indefinitely for Danzig (Gdansk), or Königsberg (Kaliningrad), or Strasbourg (Strassburg), and that a day arrives when, to the test of time and of a few historical verdicts (inseparable, most often from the fate of arms), the feeling of the wrong felt by some and the arrogance of others (the victors) become less intense, the poison of the deadly conflict is diluted in the process, and we move on to other matters.

It is historical experience itself which validates this essential figure: in the historical experience of peoples, of modern nation-states in particular, the conflicts experienced at their climax as insurmountable are more doomed to be “forgotten”, to fall into escheat, than to be strictly speaking resolved and overcome in one way or another. Their status is in this sense identical to that of the false problems with which a human community may obsess for centuries and centuries before turning away from it, when it comes to discover, one fine day, their perfect inconsistency and futility—like: does God exist? Do animals have a soul? Is the Emperor of Japan a man or a god, or a bit of both? etc. Or, in the order of the questions that interest us here: is Strasbourg a French or a German city? Menton more Italian or French?—to the test of the life of peoples and the borders (still a little) open, nobody cares any more, from now on, as soon as one can take his coffee there indifferently in French, German or Italian, and where human flows tend to make the “edges” of nation states porous (except for migrants, of course).

 

It is not, of course, a question of sticking to a moral interpretation of the gestures whose effect is to de-intensify the protracted civil war, by speculating on the “good will” of the actors present. On the contrary, we must insist on the fact that, for an essential part, they do not know what they are doing, or rather, they are seized by gestures whose scope is much wider than what they have in mind. Obviously, each of the parties involved, when it undertakes to loosen the stranglehold on the discourse and postures of civil war, is also animated by ulterior motives. In a sense, we can even say that they continue the war by other means; or else, that each of them puts into practice the famous sentence borrowed from Sun Tzu ‘s Art of War according to which the best victories are those which one carries without having to fight …

For the leaders of mainland China, it is indeed a question of trying to gradually dissolve Taiwanese dissent by gradually swaddling it in a dense network of economic, cultural, social, tourist (etc.) interactions, by reweaving the severed links between the island and the continent, to round off the angles of the separation between the two state entities by establishing a multitude of lines of continuity, to the point of reducing what separates them and distinguishes them at a negligible level of a provincial particularism, taking advantage of the disparity of forces and “masses”, in the physical sense of the term (1,400 million inhabitants against 23 million). Conversely, for the leaders of the island, it is a question, by avoiding a showdown, by freezing the situation, of letting time work in their favor, the idea being that the more time passes, the more generations come together and the more the features specific to a Taiwanese nation tend to be reinforced, the more the singularities of the island tend to assert themselves, the more the status quo tends to become, in the eyes of the community and international opinion, an irreversible given.

The dispute therefore remains, as such, constitutive of the relationship between the two entities. But this very fact does not detract from the scope of the gesture consisting in disconnecting oneself from the civil war by adopting behaviors that are both pragmatic and endowed with a strong symbolic significance and which consist, essentially, in speaking with the enemy and to declare that “we” no longer seek to erase it from the surface of the globe. Because the characteristic of such a rupture is to create a space in which can develop a dynamic of reorientation, a dynamic in which, precisely, a gesture connects on another in this new topography placed under the sign of the suspension of the civil war understood as a regime of hostility.

 

However, it is precisely this suspension which is suspended and this dynamic which is stopped dead with the election of Tsai Ing-wen in 2016. It is not for nothing that the very first of the points of rupture with the doctrine of his predecessor, concerning relations with China (considered as the political question to which all the others are subordinate) is that of the rejection of the very figure of the suspensive consensus of the civil war and of its consecrated formula—one China, two different regimes. In this sense, the rejection of the consensus which cools the dispute without making it disappear is equivalent here immediately to a revival, a resumption of the civil war, of its gestures, its gesticulations, rather, of its rhetoric, its regime of hostility, its tensions and its promised crises.

In this regard, the claim that what would be at issue, with the accession to power of the DPP, is to settle once and for all the detestable legacy of the authoritarian regime by establishing, finally, a “vibrant democracy”, is pure fake—the new rulers, contrarily, reconnect with what was the purpose of the regime of Chiang Kai-shek: death struggle against China under the inexorable sign of civil war without end. The rest is only a matter of narrative construction, of arranging an imaginary (a fiction) intended to accredit the thesis according to which the confrontation between “China” on the one hand and “Taiwan” on the other hand—two entities that are utterly separated, two states, two nations, two disparate histories, two distinct “worlds”—is merely a conflict between authoritarianism-totalitarianism and liberal democracy, above all.

Cartoon published in Taipei Times

Cartoon published in Taipei Times

This is indeed a substantial and systemic difference “imagined” in the sense in which the founding narratives of modern nation-states are, according to Benedict Anderson; the narrative manufacturing an opposition which, since eternity, would be rooted in the nature of things. In terms of the phantasmal genealogy that founds it (in its currently most proclaimed form, which is the most advantageous from the point of view of Taiwanese rulers, this is the conflict between democracy and its antagonist), this irreducible difference will refer to a whole immemorial junk: the supposed membership of Taiwan in the Austronesian sphere as opposed to mainland China, the (imaginary) aboriginal ancestor, even the DNA and the blood which would attest the racial difference between the respective populations of the Chinese island and the subcontinent…[1]

So the civil war can be relaunched in terms of the rhetoric of the vital threat embodied by Communist China and the tireless effort of the indomitable Taiwanese sovereignty to defend itself. For this, it is necessary to go through the making of a fable, an aggregative myth; according to which what was and remains only a twist of the Chinese civil war (the constitution on the island of a nationalist redoubt, of a concretion of state form of the residual power of the so-called defeated nationalists) finds itself metamorphosed, transfigured into a substantial people and an exemplary nation, adorned with all the equipment of what is supposed to come into being in a modern nation: Taiwan.

 

But this fairy tale stands a hundred leagues from reality: if there is one thing which, today as yesterday, characterizes Taiwan as a social, political and cultural entity, it is precisely the deficiency and the deficit of all these elementary signs and traits with which a modern nation identifies: a national myth, a national “novel” (le roman national, in French)  around which the population gathers in spite of all those other elements that can divide it: “stories”, images, emblems, heroes, martyrs, historical dates, places of memory which constitute the cement of a shared identity. However, if there is one thing that persists to characterize Taiwan today, at this very time when the revival of the civil war is in full swing and where the stakes linked to the historical past are consequently intensifying, it is indeed this: people do not agree on anything, dissensus and discord are the absolute rule when it comes to things as simple as the name of the founders and emblematic characters of the nation, the flag, the national anthem, the very name of the country, what would be its official language(s), the territory(s) over which its sovereignty is supposed to be exercised, the most elementary historical references concerning the past of the country (was the island, yes or no, ever an integral part of Chinese sovereignty? Was Japanese colonization violent and predatory or, on the contrary, civilizing and beneficial?, etc)…

Collective memory is, in the reduced space of this island, fragmented, shattered like nowhere else, the past is a battlefield and a rat race: with its procession of overturned, beheaded statues, desecrated memorials, of incessant rewriting the history of the country and constant changes in the way of teaching it; Homeric clashes over the question of the respective size of the mention “Republic of China” and “Taiwan” on the passports of citizens of the ROC/Taiwan; whether or not Sun Yat-Sen, the said founder of the Republic of China, may have been rightly referred to as Taiwanese “father of the nation”; if it is well suited that the national airline of Taiwan is called “China Airlines”, and so on.

 

The least that can be said, therefore, when examining these oddities, the tussles and the often grotesque situations they give rise to, is that Taiwan is, by current criteria, anything but a nation or a “normal” nation-state—what the English-speaking body of the independence party itself, the Taipei Times, recently headlined an editorial with a delicious euphemism: “Taiwan not yet a ‘normal’ society”.[2] However, it is only too obvious that this “abnormality” or anomaly of the much vaunted Taiwanese democracy has its roots directly in the continued civil war—and that it is doomed to do so all the more since it will have been reactivated and deliberately re-envenomed by those who are currently firmly established as the rulers of the island.

The revisionist-separatist narrative based on the notion of two peoples and two nations understood as two communities of destiny separated by a watertight partition takes only moderately into the Taiwanese population, despite the density of the propagandist shelling to which it is the object—polls show that it remains deeply divided on this issue and that despite the endless repetition of the motive of the “Chinese threat” and the looming invasion, most of the islanders do not believe to the existence of a risk of war.[3]

 

The state of historic schizophrenia in which the current Taiwanese leadership is plunged was vividly confirmed on October 10, 2021, on the occasion of the National Day of the Republic of China. The date of October 10 marks the beginning of the Wuchang Uprising, of which it was the centenary, a movement which led to the fall of the last Chinese dynasty, the Qing, and the advent of the Republic. The very fact that this day is the national holiday on the island sufficiently indicates what, in direct genalogical terms, connects its historical fate to that of China. In a solemn speech on the occasion, the President, Tsai Ing-wen said this (I keep the official English translation): “The Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China are mutually exclusive”.

It should be noted that this principle of mutual exclusion is proclaimed here all the more loudly because the organic link of the Taiwanese entity to China cannot be removed by decree—its official name as well as its flag (that of the Kuomintang) indicate this sufficiently. As such, the declaration of Tsai Ing-wen—whose most tenacious, Quixotic dream is to leave her name in history taught to schoolchildren under the title of mother of Taiwanese independence (but not just anyone can be Gandhi…)—is perfectly ambivalent: even though it strives to heat up what opposes and separates the two sovereignties (two distinct names), it displays the evidence that they are in conflict around the same name and all that it covers, China, two sovereignties for a single reality, which is the very definition of civil war in which two parties, two factions clash around one and only one sovereignty, one which cannot be shared.

The principle of mutual exclusion put forward here has the main function of hardening the terms of hostility and intensifying the stakes— it is the affect of civil war that is at work, in a statement where everything indicates that what we are talking about is not a barbarian “other” from far away, with whom we have nothing in common culturally and geographically. Contrarily, it is indeed the intimate enemy: the very one whose referent is the same as ours, “China” (and even doubly, the word “Republic” being added to the preceding one); the one whose appearance and the ethnic constitution is the same as ours; the one who does not need to translate the ranting of chief warrior Mme Tsai) because they are pronounced in the same language…[4] The violence of the anathema does not come here to mark the estrangement of the parties in conflict but, on the contrary, their proximity—it is the narcissism of small differences that is its fuel.

 

In truth, the displacement brought about by the resumption and reinstatement of the civil war operated by the current rulers of Taiwan is perfectly distinct: in the current configuration, this Sino-Chinese stasis is now overdetermined (and instrumentalised) by the rising conflict between the mainland Chinese power and the United States (without ever forgetting the global West which is the latter’s cortege). It is now included in the diagram of the “promised war” between the United States and China, “war of the worlds” announced by blows of horns, although it is not certain. In this topography, what is primarily at stake is not at all the status of Taiwan, its independence or not (which, in itself, is a minor international issue), but the future of the Chinese regime on the continent, inseparable, against all odds, from the course drawn by the revolution of 1949. The Cold War slogan in full vogue today among the hawks of the West in search of reconquest, “democratize China”, means in truth not only actively working to overthrow the Chinese regime, but basically “annulling” the Chinese revolution as the disappearance of the Soviet regime and empire have (or are supposed to have) “annulled” the Russian revolution.

This dream of turning the wheel of History upside down, as futile and phantasmal as it may be, is the one that fundamentally drives all these professional or amateur strategists and prophets who dream of a “post-communist” future for China. A nihilist dream in the form of pereat mundus, fiat democratia—that this power, whose rise so distinctly threatens the manifest destiny of the West to rule the world until the end of time, should succumb at any cost.

 

The double bind in which the inconsistent independence dream of Taiwan’s ruling elites is caught today is obvious. In the hypothesis of a conflict with China in which the Taiwanese entity (state and population too, unfortunately) would find itself in the position of useful idiot of the hegemonic ambitions of the United States, if it turned to the advantage of the Western side, the confrontation could not be limited to the sole conquest by the island of its independence, imposed on a defeated mainland China or in a position of weakness. If, as it is expressed with ever more insistence in the media under the influence in Taiwan and among the Western supporters of the independence party, the root of the problem is the democratization of China, then this inevitably means that the independence of Taiwan conquered more or less by sheer force would be only a minor part of an infinitely larger process in which would be at stake not only the overthrow of the Chinese regime but, of course, the dismantling—“Balkanization”—of the Chinese state in its present form: the secession of Tibet and Xinjiang becoming, in one form or another, “independent” states placed under the tutelage of Western powers animated by an intact neo-colonial zeal—this, to say the least. The joke attributed to Stalin, after the fall of the Third Reich, according to which he loved Germany so much that he was delighted to see there prosper not one state but two or three, would apply in this case perfectly to China: the united Western powers would then fall in love with China so much that they would be delighted to see it explode into a variable number of sovereignties recalling the rich hours of the last moments of the Qing Empire and other ends of tumultuous dynasties throughout Chinese history…

 

In such a context, Taiwan and especially its elites would quite naturally find themselves embroiled in this process intended to erase as radically as possible all traces of the Chinese revolution. The double link is there: the more categorical and obstinate the denial of civil war, the more violent and irresistible the return of the repressed will be. Any direct confrontation between the United States and China turning to the advantage of the former and leading to the fall of the heir regime of the Chinese revolution would inevitably throw the Taiwanese elites and a variable part of its population into the chaos that would settle on the mainland. Such a scenario, far to reject the civil war in the past, would only to reactivate it on a different scale, giving it an international dimension.

 

After their military victory on both fronts, in Western Europe and Eastern Asia, the United States saw itself, after the surrender of Japan, as masters of the world. The Chinese revolution is what came, in the first place, to spoil the celebration of total hegemony. It is in this sense a defeat of “American” power too, even though it has never perceived Chiang Kai-Shek and the Kuomintang as perfectly reliable allies and, even less, honourable ones—while supporting it militarily, under the influence of circumstances.

Accordingly, the shadow of the Chinese revolution would continue to weigh heavily, tomorrow or even later, on any confrontation between the United States and China— the outcome of which would necessarily lead either to an attempt to cancel it completely, or to the strengthening and perpetuation of the power of which it is the foundation. Such a confrontation would indeed be, for an essential part, the Chinese civil war taken up and projected onto the international scene—the United States has a revenge to take, and it is today, after half a century of latency, that this dimension of the conflict becomes quite tangible.

The double link is there: the more the separatists think they are reaching their goal, the more they are exposed to find themselves once again embroiled in the whirlwinds of Chinese history. In this sense, they are the perfect example of those state people and politicians entangled in the folds of the wiles of Reason: believing to do one thing, to advance in one direction, they do a completely different, they go astray in the opposite direction. Caught in the folds of a “dream” which misleads them (“independence” of Taiwan, perceived as the salutary outcome of a long march towards the “normalization” of the nation-state via the full and complete recognition of its sovereignty), they are heading straight into the wall by relaunching the worst—the Sino-Chinese civil war, staged on a giant screen .

 

The “signature” of the civil war state of mind is naturally the proliferation of hate speech, of all the reactive affects that support them (the spirit of vindictiveness, resentment, hateful jubilations, of death which are displayed openly) and a whole appropriate rhetoric (invectives, insulting caricatures, criminalization of the enemy…)[5] . It was the Taipei Times which, in a prominently published column, noted in 2017 that “Taiwan is becoming an island of hate”[6]. This warning  has been swept aside since, in the same columns, a phraseology made of a combination of rhetoric of the Cold War and the Civil War is pouring in continual streams and the teratological regime of the dispute thrives: the Chinese leaders are there relentlessly portrayed as monsters, cavemen, tyrants combining the traits of Hitler and Stalin, while their supposed “infiltrated” supporters on the island’s soil are pinned down in vulgar McCarthyist witch-hunt style, “reds”, agents of Chinese and international communism, rats, vermin to be eliminated as quickly as possible, like any “fifth column”[7].

A remarkable thing, which allows to take the full measure of this political hysteria unleashed against the “mortal enemy”: one of the favorite targets of the editorialists and the cartoonists of Taipei Times is nothing more and nothing less than the former president of the ROC (from 2008 to 2016), historical figure of the main opposition party, constantly criticized and vilified as a valet and scent of the Chinese “dictator”. The more radical the anti-Chinese discourse becomes and the more the current Taiwanese leadership’s dependence on the United States and Japan becomes apparent, the more the temptation to criminalise the opposition by reducing it to the dual condition of being the heir to the crimes of the Chiang Kai-Shek dictatorship and a fifth column of the Chinese regime becomes apparent. That Taiwan has become this beating heart of democracy under conditions of perpetual self-celebration in which institutional opposition is exposed to the rolling fire of accusations of collusion with the hereditary enemy, is an incongruity of which, obviously, the current leaders of the island, carried away by their vindictive passion, have not the slightest notion of.

 

It is because their love of “democracy” is so overdetermined by what Carl Schmitt describes as the globalization of civil war that they cannot henceforth separate the defense and promotion of democracy from the deadly figure of the definitive settling of scores with the mortal enemy: what they expect from the US protector and his military arsenal, from the means of his power including nuclear weapons, is that he gets rid of them one day, and once and for all, of what they call the “Chinese threat”. But in matters of resolution of conflict placed under the sign of complexity, any passion for “final” solutions is necessarily doomed to take a turn of eradication, extermination.

This obsession to put an end once and for all with the Chinese power reduced to the pure and simple dimension of the “threat” is all the more dangerous today that it thrives in a world where the spirit of camp and the division of the world into zones of influence no longer plays a moderating role at all in conflicts between empires or superpowers. At the time when Chiang Kai-Shek was busy reactivating the Chinese civil war in the Taiwan Strait, the United States hardly cared to find itself embroiled in a direct conflict with China by this uncontrollable and ever so patibular ally[8]. Today, things have changed and Taiwanese “democracy” appears more and more distinctly as a transmission belt (and an outpost) of the reconquest of positions lost by the United States and its subordinates under the colours of Western defence in East Asia and the Pacific.

The projection of the Sino-Chinese civil war on a global scale and in the dimension of world history at the time of its resumption in the context of the standoff between the United States and China results in this: the independence dream cannot be freed from the founding claim of the ROC (Republic of China) to “represent the people of mainland China”. In the event of a confrontation turning to the advantage of the United States and leading to the collapse of the “communist” regime in mainland China, the Taiwanese political, economic and intellectual elites will be overwhelmingly called upon to play a leading role in the establishment of a “democratic police” which everything suggests that it will be similar to that which was set up in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime—even more than “proxies”, mercenaries and collaborators[9].

In other words, the more the pro-independence dream declines, the more the island’s destiny reverts to that of mainland China; the more the pro-independence leaders are condemned to follow in the footsteps of those whose spectre they are constantly exorcising—the “dictator” and founder of the ROC. The resumption of the rhetoric of civil war, the anti-communist discourse, and the imprecations against the “red bandits” which are the hallmark of Chiang Kai-Shek’s regime being a very convincing indication of this.

Such is the ruse of History which holds them under its evil spell: the more they work to establish their legitimacy and to expand their ever more exclusive and intolerant hold on the political life of the island, the more they become sink into the muddy furrow of civil war, the more they are, objectively, the heirs and successors even of what they vilify.

 

This is the pathetic and grotesque side of Taiwanese political life today: the exchange of positions between the KMT converted to political realism in relations with the enemies of yesterday, the leaders of mainland China, and the DPP and his paper independence, which has become the totally irresponsible spearhead, amok, of the re-intensification of the Sino-Chinese civil war, an ineluctable consequence of its current role as pilot fish of what must be called the grand style offensive of the United States against the People’s Republic of China. The only real difference between the position of Chiang Kai-Shek and that of Tsai Ing-wen and its sequel is that, for the first, the continuation of the civil war by all means was really the principle both instituting and constituting the ROC having withdrawn on the island[10]; while the second is relaunching this war like an automaton, like a sleepwalker—to try to make the doctrine of “One China, one Taiwan” prevail, she has to try to twist the arm of China, therefore confront China—therefore relaunch the Sino-Chinese civil war, since also, she finds herself stuck here in a configuration whose features of civil war are obvious, despite the outbursts of propaganda aimed at convincing us of the fact that the two antagonistic forces have, here, nothing in common…

 

In the first feature film shot by Sidney Kubrick, Fear and Desire (1953), two armed factions clash, the soldiers of each camp (and who kill each other) being embodied by the same actors… this trick leads us to the core of civil war understood as this heart of darkness where nothing resembles a friend as much as an enemy.

An open confrontation between the two republics associated with the name of China would, as such, be a large and colorful remake of the apocalypse of Kubrick’s film. Rather than increasing the number of push-to-crime surveys intended to highlight the (supposed) rise in the desire for independence in the population of the island, the specialized institutes would be well advised to ask some probing questions like these: have you had family on the mainland? Are you related to it? Do you have friends on the mainland? Have you ever stayed or lived in China? In what capacity? (etc). The results of these polls would then suffice to display the aboveground futility of the separatist slogan “One China, one Taiwan”. But just as well, the fact that the governmental organization chart of the ROC shows the existence of a “Bureau des Affaires du Continent” (“Mainland Affairs Council”), is this not a sufficiently clear admission that “The continent” and the “island” are not entities totally separated?

 

A preliminary condition for breaking out of the doomed circle of civil war is that the protagonists manage to take this side step in all decisive respects: the one that would lead them to accept the idea that the way the other party views the issue in dispute is not entirely irrelevant; to accept that rather than a mere rambling, absurd and criminal, this can be seen as a point of view on the issue, inspired both by interests and “reasons”—this in a world where “everyone has its reasons”. This displacement does not mean that the part which operates this displacement gives up its own point of view, its own position; but it makes it possible to loosen the grip of pure and simple dispute, of which the fight to the death is the shadow cast.

Now, if there is a question about which one can rule that, for historical reasons, it is placed under the sign of a complexity which nourishes both the diffraction of points of view (on it) and their conflictuality, it is this: knowing what actually and in truth is the Taiwanese entity. The small steps taken by the rulers of the island as well as by those of mainland China over the first fifteen years of this century went in the direction, precisely, of de-demonization of the point of view of the other—the outcome of which is the search for a compromise, a position of equilibrium, a reasoned temporization, intended to de-intensify the conflict.

In the current sequence, on the contrary, the Taiwanese leaders, braced on their American mentors and supported by European, Japanese, Australian and other crime pushers, are sparing no effort to re-demonize the position of the protagonist branded as an arch-enemy, by giving credence to the idea that its claims on Taiwan are purely and simply based on an essentially totalitarian appetite for conquest. Such a headlong rush can only lead them to flee into the imagination of the reconstruction of the past, of the crudest historical revisionism, of the falsification of the most established historical realities and facts—in the purest “Orwellian” style, precisely—all the pitiful argument according to which “Taiwan never belonged to China”, or, as well, that Taiwan falls under another area of ​​civilization than the Chinese mainland, because never any decision of the international community, after the Second world war, never endorsed China’s sovereignty over the island, etc.

The refusal to recognize that what makes the resolution of the dispute crystallized around the fate of Taiwan so difficult is, precisely, the fact that each of the two parties involved has “its solid and arguable reasons”, can only tip the scales in the direction of a showdown—if nothing can be heard from the other party’s arguments, if the only term that adequately designates its position is “threat”, then only an armed showdown is likely to settle the Gordian knot—this is stated more and more frequently and openly in the columns of the propagandistic press: the Chinese threat must be “eliminated”—Carthago delenda est [11] .

 

The walk towards the abyss continues at an accelerated pace. On March 20, 2019, the editorial staff of the Taipei Times broke down an editorial with a rather solemn tone, entitled “Anti-China rhetoric getting old”. The following passage could be read in it: “With the next presidential election less than a year away, the DPP would do well to take a break from its cross-strait rhetoric or come up with a more clever stance”[12].

 

Since then, Tsai Ing-wen has been comfortably re-elected, the DPP is more firmly established in business than ever—and the Taipei Times occupies pole position day after day in anti-Chinese vituperation…

 

 

 

 

 

[1] “ Taiwanese, Han Chinese ethnically distinct : expert ”, Taipei Times , 10/30/2017.

[2] “ Taiwan, not yet a ‘normal’ society ”, Taipei Times of 19/10/2021.

[3] “ Most Taiwanese see little chance of war : survey ”, Taipei Times , 4/11/2021.

[4] A proximity so great that very often, the customs officers and police officers at the borders of the countries not belonging to the region confuse the two nationalities, which leads to all kinds of misunderstandings and more or less annoying or comical misunderstandings according to the circumstances…

[5] The regime of collective memory that the separatists are trying to make prevail in the island today is similar, for a Frenchman living in Taiwan, to what would be a government of the past by the authority according to which the maintenance of the eternal flame under the Arc de Triomphe would be intended above all to perpetuate the endless hatred of Germany and the Germans.

[6] Yan Chen-Fang: “ Taiwan becoming an island of hate ”, 3/12/2017.

[7] When historical revisionism finds itself at the end of its argument, it gives way to outright anti-Chinese racism, an admirable product of autolytic synthesis, inasmuch as it is the work of ethnic Chinese. This genre thrives in the columns of the Taipei Times , with bits of bravery like this: “American anthropologist Marshall Sahlins made an interesting comparison between the Chinese and the Japanese: Whereas the Japanese generally have a strong sense of morality, the Chinese have had a low moral standard for the past 5,000 years ”, Yu Jie (“ an exiled Chinese dissident writer ”), Taipei Times , 03/18/2017.

[8] The reason why they opposed a categorical ” no ” to his attempt to acquire nuclear weapons ; nor did they appreciate that he had minions in his pay assassinated on United States soil opponents of the dictatorship and its regime of terror …

[9] The media blasters of the agitation against China today are only partly driven by ideological biases, they are also driven by powerful interests – let the current configuration change, and they lose all ground. and all raison d’être and disappear – on par with their Hong Kong counterparts.

[10] The DPP and the separatists made the bloody episode codenamed 228 (a campaign of terror carried out primarily against the Taiwanese population by the military regime in 1948) their memorial sanctuary and primary instance of historical legitimation , without even realizing that this violent episode bears the indelible mark of the Chinese civil war, as it has always been conducted by the KMT, by suppressing popular uprisings in the most brutal way – in Shanghai in 1927, in Canton in December of the same year, etc. 228 and its aftermath is the last act of the KMT as a party of civil war, specialized in the repression of popular movements.

[11] “ Desperation might cause the CCP to risk it all in a last-ditch effort, so the US, Japan and the world must be prepared to deal with it and eliminate it (emphasis added, AB)” – in “ Xi’s troubles as the fantasy melts ”, Taipei Times , 1/12/2021.

 

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