Subscribe
Notify of
guest
98 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gary Baxter
Gary Baxter
2 months ago

Thank you very much for bringing up some little-known but very important historical facts!
That the first Constitution of Modern China in 1912 did not include Taiwan as part of China, and the Chinese Communist Party considered Taiwan the same as Korea in 1938 certainly gives the lie to the statement that Taiwan has always been a part of China, which the CCP is never tired of repeating, apparently believing that a lie repeated a thousand times becomes a truth.
History apart, the present-day reality is that Taiwan has not for a single day been governed by the regime in Beijing. In the seventy-odd years since 1949 China and Taiwan have embarked on two different paths. While China has been under a communist, one-party dictatorship, Taiwan has grown into a mature democracy with a vibrant civil society (and a world-class public health system). How could anyone expect the Taiwanese would willingly give up their way of life?

Last edited 2 months ago by Gary Baxter
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
2 months ago
Reply to  Gary Baxter

Yes, and why would they? The article simply shows that the world hasn’t changed much in 200 years. History is replete with one group conquering another for power and control. I harken back to an Unherd article about a town in Western Ukraine, which described a conversation with a man whose father claimed to have lived a long life in the same house from birth until death, yet under 5 different flags during his lifetime.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
2 months ago
Reply to  Gary Baxter

Taiwan is more a young democracy than a mature one. It only became a full democracy in 1992, and elected its first president in 1996. Taiwan’s current economic success is the fruit of autocracy, not democracy.
In that regard, it is interesting to note that Taiwan’s economy was 1/3 the size of China’s in 1996. Now it is less than 1/20.

Last edited 2 months ago by Carlos Danger
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

And yet still less than 2/100 (2%) of the Chinese population – so still outperforming China economically by a factor of 10.

Jake Dee
Jake Dee
2 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

The Taipei government achieved what it did with the gold it transferred(looted) from the mainland in a comparatively tiny population, whilst under the protection of the American nuclear umbrella and Pacific fleet. Hardly an apples to apples comparison. If you want a better gauge of the Chinese political system compare it to India’s

Victor Whisky
Victor Whisky
1 month ago
Reply to  Gary Baxter

How is Anguila, Bermuda, British Arctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Island, Henderson Island, Ducie Island, Oeno Island, Saint Helena, Ascension, Tristan de Qunha, South Georgia, Sandwich Islands, Akrotiri, Dhekella, Turks and Caicos and Northern Ireland English?
How is Hawaii, Wake Island, Navassa Island, Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands, Mariana Islands, Samoa, Midway Island, Palmyra Island, Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll and Kingman reef American?
As the prominent English sociologist Stuart Mills had said, England holds the world record for having “filched” more territory by force than any country in the world. Hence the phrase “The sun never sets on England.”
However some have said the sun never sets on England because God never trusted the English in the dark.

G N
G N
1 month ago
Reply to  Victor Whisky

I’ve never heard of that last saying. Thank you for sharing.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
2 months ago

Interesting and informative article. But I think it oversimplifies a complex situation.
Taiwan does not have the long history Ireland has as a separate nation with its own language and culture, ruled over by another country as a colony until it declared independence. The native population on Taiwan was largely wiped out (along with their language and culture) during the time when Taiwan was part of China (1683-1885), and replaced with Chinese immigrants. Hakka and Hokkien are Chinese languages, not Taiwanese languages.
There are still remnants of the former Taiwan natives — the former actress Chin May (who starred in Ang Lee’s delightful film The Wedding Banquet) is part aborigine and represents an aboriginal constituency in parliament. But to ignore the fact that Taiwan is now a country filled with people descended from Chinese immigrants over the last 300 years rather than Taiwanese is to ignore a significant difference with Ireland.

Last edited 2 months ago by Carlos Danger
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

“But to ignore the fact that Taiwan is now a country filled with people descended from Chinese immigrants over the last 300 years rather than Taiwanese”
Precisely, isn’t that the ‘way of the world’. The Chinese have already done it to Tibet, the Japanese famously to the indigenous Ainu, Europeans to the USA, and even the English to Ireland & Scotland.

Lord Rochester
Lord Rochester
2 months ago

Sorry, but the English haven’t done anything of the sort to Scotland. In fact, Ulster was populated mostly with Scots by James VI.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  Lord Rochester

Sorry I meant that ‘we’ have turned them into an English clone that wears tartan skirts.

David Simpson
David Simpson
2 months ago
Reply to  Lord Rochester

You’ve obviously never heard of Anglo-Irish horse Protestants, considerable numbers of whose descendants still live in the south.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 months ago
Reply to  Lord Rochester

Nonsense – lowland Scots never felt part of Scotland, with a stronger kinship to England. It was lowland Scots who defeated the clans at Culloden.

R Wright
R Wright
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

They create a desert, and they call it peace – Tacitus

Bill Hayton
Bill Hayton
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

What does ‘Chinese language’ mean? Do you mean ‘Sinitic’ in the same way that Spanish and Romanian are grouped as ‘Romance’ languages. Being in the same language group does not place them in the same nation-state.
And as for 300 years of ‘mainland immigration’ have you heard of ‘Ulstermen’?

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Hayton

I mean that Hakka and Hokkien are languages that originated in China, still exist there, and came from China to Taiwan largely within the last 300 years. They are not languages that originated in Taiwan.
And there are some similarities between Ireland and Taiwan, but I think the differences are much more important. When China was given Taiwan back in 1945 both the Communists and the Nationalists considered Taiwan to be part of China. I think your argument that Taiwan’s history shows that not to be the case is a hard one to make.
Taiwan would likely have fallen to the Chinese government in 1950 if not for the Korean War. China stepped in in Korea to drive the Americans back in 1950, using its military forces that would otherwise have focused on the Nationalists that had retreated to Taiwan.

Last edited 2 months ago by Carlos Danger
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

No it wouldn’t have fallen to the Chinese in 1950, as they had absolutely no amphibious capability, virtually no Air Force, and almost no navy to launch the required invasion. North Korea was about land invasion with massed soldiers.

Laurence Eyton
Laurence Eyton
1 month ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

“ When China was given Taiwan back in 1945 both the Communists and the Nationalists considered Taiwan to be part of China”

Worth pointing out that nobody asked the Taiwanese how they felt about it, although they should, according to UN convention, have had a plebiscite to decide their status.
Also worth pointing out that sovereignty over Taiwan as never transferred from Japan to any “Chinese” government. The GuoMinDang regime on Taiwan from 1945 was actually an administrative entity, rather like the Four Powers in Austria, supposed to administer the island until a peace treaty determined its status. The treaty that resolved the war against Japan actually did not do this. The GuoMinDang’s claim as the Republic of China government to sovereignty over Taiwan was illegitimate, not sanctioned by international law. Whether democratic change has grounded Taiwan’s current regime via some idea of popular sovereignty is an idea that needs debating. Certainly until 1992 the Taiwan government was a temporary regime of occupation that had illegally claimed sovereignty.
NONE of this in any way justifies Beijing’s preposterous claim to Taiwan. But it’s worth pointing out that the plebiscite that should have determined Taiwan’s post-1945 status has yet to happen.

harry storm
harry storm
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

So what?

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
2 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

So I think the comparison of Taiwan to Ireland is more facile than helpful.

Steve Jerome
Steve Jerome
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Agreed. I don’t think it’s about language or even culture any longer. It is about two absolutely diametrically opposed systems of rule and recognition of individualism as of worth rather than something to be feared and repressed.

Steve Jerome
Steve Jerome
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jerome

Having said which, I really enjoyed the article and found it very informative.

Jon Brulloths
Jon Brulloths
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

You really don’t think that Northern Ireland is not FILLED with English and Scottish Royalist colonists who only arrived in the past 300 years???! That’s 99% of the NI problem. The religious issue is tied in with the English and Scottish invaders.

Alex Forbes
Alex Forbes
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Your ignorance of Ireland is profound. It was part of the UK and its antecedents for 800 years. It was never a colony. It did not “declare independence”. It was and is as ethnically diverse as England and Scotland (and most other European countries). No doubt your understanding of Taiwan is better.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Forbes

And I’d say your ignorance of Ireland is either profound or polluted with partiality. It viewed itself as a colony for hundreds of years. You’re taking the same position as the Chinese – if we say you’re part of our country then you are a part of our country.

Lo Louise
Lo Louise
2 months ago

Taiwan and Ireland have a fundamental difference.
I would like to share another theory:
First, if we separate Guomindang and Taiwan, I would also like to separate the CCP and China.
Secondly, I agree with the article: yes, there are some conflicts between the native Taiwanese and the later-joined mainland immigrants, but it’s quite mild and it can be expressed through its democracy system.
In my opinion, the main reason why the CCP never give up the idea of destroying the Taiwan government is because of the legality that the Taiwan government stands.
The Taiwan government (led by Guomindang then) was the one that legally inherited the country (including the legal contracts with the West following the rule of law) from Qing Dynasty. This government is also the recognised legal government that joined the Allies of World War II, later as China’s legal government joined UN till 1971. Though the current Taiwan government is not ruled by Guomindang, but as a democratic country, its legal continuity is unshakable.
The CCP joined the UN was one of the result of the cold war – the US wanted CCP to help them balancing Russia. During and after the civil war, CCP demonstrated its capability of uniting and controlling a vast country like China. It also managed to fake its facade and convinced the Americans to believe its “friendliness and openness”…
Anyway, in short, the CCP succeeded, BUT, it can never relax because it is lack of the same continuous legal basis that the Taiwan government got. There is always a potential threat for the CCP. It fears to be kicked out of the UN as a criminal government over night just like how it joined – This fear is not groundless. The CCP government has done enough to prove itself as an evil authoritarian government.

Last edited 2 months ago by Lo Louise
Robin Greenhalgh
Robin Greenhalgh
2 months ago

Until citizens of the world learn how to deal with bullies, we will keep getting them as leaders.

Paul O
Paul O
2 months ago

The USA and UK are good at dealing with bullies. They just go in and kill them, e.g. Hussain and Gaddafi. But who gets to choose who the real bullies are?

Lo Louise
Lo Louise
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

As someone who is silenced on Weibo because posting one photo of the moms in HK holding candles , I can tell who are the real bullies.

Paul O
Paul O
2 months ago
Reply to  Lo Louise

Such censorship is abhorrent, but it is nothing more than has been happening in the west. The days when you could share with others what is really happening are long gone.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
2 months ago
Reply to  Lo Louise

The president of the United States was silenced on Twitter because he tweeted that he would not be attending his successor’s inauguration. Still is silenced. Is that bullying?

harry storm
harry storm
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Yes. What’s your point? PS: that isn’t why Trump was silenced. Also,, it wasn’t the government that silenced Trump, it was Twitter. With regard to Weibo, it follows the dictates of the thugocracy that allows it to function. Finally, your efforts reek of false equivalence.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Yes, it is outrageous, especially when Taliban and other terrorist organisations are allowed to preach their disgusting ideologies.

Last edited 2 months ago by Andrew F
John Dewhirst
John Dewhirst
2 months ago

I visited Taiwan a couple of years ago. You need only walk the streets and ride the public transport to be struck by the differences with the mainland in the behaviour and conduct of the locals. It feels western in outlook but sets its own standards of cleanliness and order. It certainly didn’t feel Chinese, certainly much less so than was the case in HK pre 1997.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
2 months ago

I’ve found it very difficult to decide what is the right principled approach to Taiwan – is it really an issue of self-determination for an independent nation, or is Taiwan a left-over from the Chinese civil war and at heart an internal Chinese issue? In the end I think we have to follow Realpolitik: it would be strategically disadvantageous to us that the PRC should gain control over a country which produces 90% of the World’s microchips, so we should discourage that.

harry storm
harry storm
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

I’ll take “the democratic will of the people of Taiwan” over realpolitik any day. Your way also kisses bye bye to Ukraine.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
2 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

Well Ukraine is rather different of course, but in any event realpolitik certainly compels us to support the Ukranians in regaining the Donbas in view of the vast reserves of gas which have been confirmed there.

Paul O
Paul O
2 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

Alas “the democratic will of the people” no longer seems to be in fashion. Many a conflict (including Ukraine) could and should be resolved in such a manner, but our rulers don’t like the little people having a say. Look what happened in the UK when they let the people have their say.

Alex Forbes
Alex Forbes
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

So far, the little people have been allowed to have their way. Just. The UK still includes Scotland, and we have some sort of Remainery Brexit.

Jake Dee
Jake Dee
2 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

Any nation, political party or faction that requires money and weapons from a foreign power to survive cannot truly be called a democracy. The word has been abused so much it now refers to a political regime that holds some sort of election and is aligned with Washington. But the true meaning of democracy is clear, the power comes from the Demos, the people, if they rely on foreign power they are a vassal state.Taiwan is a vassal state. Washington can’t support true independence for Taipei, because that would mean independence from Washington. They can only support dependence on Washington and independence from Beijing.

harry storm
harry storm
2 months ago
Reply to  Jake Dee

That’s a bunch of nonsense. By that rather dim definition, the only democracy in the world is the USA.

Jake Dee
Jake Dee
2 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

Not at all, I don’t believe the United States is a true democracy. I rather like Curtis Yarvin’s definition, America is an oligarchy living inside the shell of a dead republic. But if the modern definition of a democracy is a regime that holds some sort of elections and is aligned to Washington then many regimes could qualify.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 months ago
Reply to  Jake Dee

Total rubbish.
Reality is that smaller nations do not survive in a vacuum.
Your definition of democracy is correct in philosophical terms but so what.
Can countries like Baltic States survive without help of NATO when faced with genocidal Russian Imperialism?

Jake Dee
Jake Dee
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Thank you for your agreement and support. I wonder if you have given your ideas the full consideration that they deserve. You can see that Taiwan and many other nations large and small cannot truly be called democracies. Yet they are constantly called democracies and the public is required to support them because they are called democracies. Yet scarcely anyone is willing to ask what is a democracy, where they can be found and why they should even be supported at all.
“Democracy” is a tag line in an international marketing campaign, or to give it it’s political name, Propaganda.

Guy Aston
Guy Aston
1 month ago
Reply to  Jake Dee

So, oh wise one, please share your definition of what is a democracy. I’m fascinated.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
2 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

Would you take the democratic will of the people of Crimea over realpolitik? Or the people of the Donbas?

Last edited 2 months ago by Carlos Danger
harry storm
harry storm
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Crimea and portions of Donbass were forcibly removed from Ukraine. The same can’t be said about Taiwan. Further, with both regions now controlled by an expansionist dictatorship, talk about the democratic will of the people of those occupied regions is egregious.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
2 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

Russia did not forcibly remove Crimea from Ukraine. There was no invasion in 2014. Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, and Western polling organizations have confirmed that overwhelming majority by polls done at the time of the 2014 vote and since. Crimeans today show no interest in returning to Ukraine, with only 2% wanting to in a recent Western poll.
Ukraine refuses to recognize that vote in Crimea because it says any vote has to be done by the entire country of Ukraine and not just a region. That’s why Ukraine refuses to even consider a vote in the Donbas by the people there and insists that any referendum on self-determination be nationwide.
Were that applied to Taiwan that would mean that Taiwan could only be independent if a majority of China’s 1.4 billion people wanted Taiwan to be independent, not just Taiwan’s 23 million.

Last edited 2 months ago by Carlos Danger
Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Cf the Indyref pantomime in Scotland, which would be over in a trice if the next vote were UK-wide, and not limited to Scottish voters.

Ormond Otvos
Ormond Otvos
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Your real sponsor is showing, Carlos.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

You are right about Taiwan.
Clearly West is mad about having so many critical components made in the country contested by China.
Diversify or die.
Quite obvious, really?

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
2 months ago

The history is interesting but irrelevant. Both the PRC and Taiwan agree that there is one China, the argument is which one’s government represents China. Given the discrepancies in size, it would be ludicrous to argue that it is the government of Taiwan, and besides, the UN has agreed that the government of the PRC is China’s representative.
Simplistically put, Taiwan has the choice of being independent or being Chinese. As at now, it does not look like the Taiwanese want to choose. The current situation is a complete fiction, but it has kept the peace.
China is hyperventilating excessively about “Taiwanese independence”, but it is in absolutely no-one’s interest to puncture the fiction bubble.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
2 months ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

Good points, but it was in Nancy Pelosi’s personal political interest to puncture the fiction bubble, so she punctured it.

harry storm
harry storm
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Gee, it’s as if Chinese dictator Xi hasn’t been bullying and threatening Taiwan for years and ratcheting up the pressure as time goes on.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
2 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

Xi Jinping hasn’t bullied and threatened Taiwan over the last few years. Tensions have been ramping up lately due to provocations from the United States.
Until 2016, both sides had been largely observing the fiction bubble that Taiwan was in practice independent but in theory part of China. Xi Jinping did nothing to change that.
But in 2016 newly elected president Donald Trump took a congratulatory call from recently elected Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen. That set off a firestorm of critical commentary from the media, saying that the call was unprecedented and provocatory. (As indeed it was.) An article in the New York Times criticized it as the biggest blunder in 40 years of China diplomacy.
Donald Trump then proceeded to have a chaotic, love-hate relationship with Xi Jinping. But it became clear Taiwan was not something Donald Trump would do anything about. He reportedly told a senator, “Taiwan is like two feet from China. We are eight thousand miles away. If they invade, there isn’t a [expletive deleted] thing we can do about it.”
So things calmed down again until Joe Biden took office and shot off his mouth a couple of times about Taiwan’s independence and the US willingness to defend her. And then, of course, Nancy Pelosi took upon herself the power to set US foreign policy by going to Taiwan this week in an unprovoked provocation.
Hard to blame Xi Jinping for any of that.

Last edited 2 months ago by Carlos Danger
John Hicks
John Hicks
2 months ago

Grateful for this history lesson, Mr. Hayton. Many thanks!

Paul O
Paul O
2 months ago

As soon as I see the words “Chatham House” the word propaganda just pops into my head. I trust Chatham House about as much as I trust the ‘fact checkers’ manned by blue haired liberal arts students on minimum wage, who couldn’t pass the barista training for Starbucks.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago

Do you have to malign Cromwell? By contemporary European standards his short campaign in Ireland was very restrained, as was his subsequent thrashing of Scotland.
Incidentally why no mention of the fact that both the Dutch (VoC) and Spanish occupied parts of Formosa, as it was then called in the 17th century? In fact the Qing ( Manchurians NOT Chinese) ejected the Dutch.

Bill Hayton
Bill Hayton
2 months ago

…because word limits!

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Hayton

Thank you, and a stimulating piece.

harry storm
harry storm
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Hayton

Great piece. Thank you.

Kevin Kilcoyne
Kevin Kilcoyne
2 months ago

What defines a ‘restrained’ campaign to you worries me. Cromwell’s goal was the total elimination of the native Irish language, culture, and Catholicism. A conquest that led to the reduction of about 50% of the native population, a famine, and 50,000 indentured laborer’s (read: slaves) shipped off to the Caribbean. A few of the ‘restrained laws’ introduced after:

  • Exclusion of Catholics from most public offices (since 1607), Presbyterians were also barred from public office from 1707.
  • Ban on intermarriage with Protestants.
  • Presbyterian marriages were not legally recognised by the state.
  • Catholics barred from holding firearms or serving in the armed forces.
  • Bar from membership in either the Parliament of Ireland or the Parliament of England.
  • Exclusion from voting until 1793;
  • Exclusion from the legal professions and the judiciary.
  • Education Act 1695 – ban on foreign education.
  • Bar to Catholics and Protestant Dissenters entering Trinity College Dublin.
  • On a death by a Catholic, his legatee could benefit by conversion to the Church of Ireland;
  • Popery Act – Catholic inheritances of land were to be equally subdivided between all an owner’s sons with the exception that if the eldest son and heir converted to Protestantism that he would become the one and only tenant of estate and portions for other children not to exceed one third of the estate. This “Gavelkind” system had previously been abolished by 1600.
  • Ban on converting from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism on pain of Praemunire: forfeiting all property estates and legacy to the monarch of the time and remaining in prison at the monarch’s pleasure. In addition, forfeiting the monarch’s protection. No injury however atrocious could have any action brought against it or any reparation for such.
  • Ban on Catholics buying land under a lease of more than 31 years.
  • Ban on custody of orphans being granted to Catholics on pain of a £500 fine that was to be donated to the Blue Coat hospital in Dublin.
  • Ban on Catholics inheriting Protestant land
  • Prohibition on Catholics owning a horse valued at over £5 (to keep horses suitable for military activity out of the majority’s hands)
  • Roman Catholic lay priests had to register to preach under the Registration Act 1704, but seminary priests and Bishops were not able to do so until 1778.
  • When allowed, new Catholic churches were to be built from wood, not stone, and away from main roads.
  • ‘No person of the popish religion shall publicly or in private houses teach school, or instruct youth in learning within this realm’ upon pain of a £20 fine and three months in prison for every such offence. Repealed in 1782.
  • Any and all rewards not paid by the crown for alerting authorities of offences to be levied upon the Catholic populace within parish and county.
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  Kevin Kilcoyne

Well to save time let us take another near contemporary example. The defeat of Protestant Czech/Hussite forces at the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620 initiated a brutal campaign of ‘religious cleansing,’ by the Habsburg authorities, spearhead by the Waffen SS of the Catholic Church, the Society of Jesus, more commonly known as Jesuits.

Thanks to utter ruthlessness and Teutonic efficiency they were ultimately successfully and today the Czech Republic is almost cleansed of Hussites
No so off course in Ireland where despite the ‘Penal Laws’ you have so carefully listed, the English ultimately failed to cleanse the place, mainly due to apathy. In fact by 1812 when we started paying for Seminary at Maynooth we had effectively thrown in the towel and attempted to suborn the Catholic Church to our cause!

I gather an Irishman, a Mr Riley has written a recent defence of Cromwell, have you read it?

Kevin Kilcoyne
Kevin Kilcoyne
1 month ago

Funny how the failure of the UK to ‘cleanse’ Ireland can be put down to the apathy of the of the invading forces over a 600+ year period. Nothing to do with the pervasive resistance to colonial rule that is still evident in no small amounts in the part of this island that is still a part of the UK.

Bob Moore
Bob Moore
2 months ago

Restrained? “Total excess deaths for the entire period of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in Ireland was estimated by Sir William Petty, the 17th century economist, to be 600,000 out of a total Irish population of 1,400,000 in 1641.[41][42][43] One modern estimate estimated that at least 200,000 were killed out of a population of allegedly 2 million.[44]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cromwellian_conquest_of_Ireland#Historical_debate

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 months ago

Thank you for the article and the commentator who refuted Cromwell’s ‘restraint.’
Ironic that it was the Chinese nationalists that insisted Taiwan was The Republic of China when looking at today’s situation.

What about Formosa? The Portuguese must have colonised it at an earlier date?

Martin Boyle
Martin Boyle
2 months ago

It was a lair of pirates and fugitives from Japan and the Chinese mainland for centuries interacting with the austronesian tribes in the mountains. The Portuguese named it as they passed it on the way to Japan in the 1500s. The Dutch and the Spanish colonised bits of it in the early 1600s. Koxinga dislodged the Dutch and held out there for the Ming until the Qing turfed his lot out in the late 1600s. The Qing ceded it to Japan in 1895. The Chinese Nationalists finally got there in 1945.
Ironically, Taiwan is de jure the Republic of China and it was beneath ROC symbols that Pelosi greeted Tsai last week.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Boyle

Thank you.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
2 months ago

Two historical things of note:
1–The Qing invaded Taiwan in pursuiit of a remnant of the former Ming Dynasty that they were replacing, that had fled there. But for their need to eradicate any competing claimants to the Throne of Heaven, they would not have gone to Taiwan at all.
2–The Qing was also known as the Manchu Dynsaty–they were Manchurian and close to the Mongols; not at all Han Chinese.
That said, one might ask why the US in the 1970s conceded the “One China” policy at all. Presumably teh need to keep China and the USSR separated… but I don’t recall if it was ever clearly explained.

Sam McGowan
Sam McGowan
2 months ago

The article is somewhat misleading. Yes, Taiwan is Taiwanese but it’s also the remnant of the Nationalist Chinese. That’s what drives Peking (Beijingeng) mad. I spent time in the Pacific in the Sixties-Seventies. No one doubted that Taiwan, originally called Formosa, was Chinese.

Maureen Finucane
Maureen Finucane
2 months ago

Taiwan has no national debt as they have learned that they can depend on no one as the rest of the world is frightened of China. Like Israel, another small country with few friends, they have invested heavily in R & D and Hi Tech. A military conflict with China would lead to a world wide recession as micro chip technology is largely Taiwanese. When I lived there in the nineties, there was still an American base and a heavy American military presence.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
2 months ago

As I understand it, the American military bases in Taiwan were closed and all American troops removed in 1979.

Mashie Niblick
Mashie Niblick
1 month ago

The Taiwanese see what has unfolded in HK — and weep.

Wolf sly
Wolf sly
1 month ago

In the ethnic/national sense, it is incorrect for Taiwanese to be compared with Irish.
Taiwan has its indigenous people, accounting for only 2% of modern Taiwan. Their influence in Modern Taiwan can be equal to that of Native Americans in modern America.
The other 98% of the Taiwanese were just Han settlers who went to Taiwan in batches from the Ming Dynasty ——As a force against the Qing Dynasty and restoring the Ming Dynasty, they have been harassing the Qing Dynasty from the sea. The reason why the Qing Dynasty invaded Taiwan was precisely to eliminate the remnants of the Ming Dynasty there. During this period, Han settlers have been carrying out genocide against Taiwan’s indigenous people. Even, eat them…Fangao(番膏).
Before KMT imposed Putonghua on Taiwan, the language spoken by “Taiwanese” was no different from those of Chinese dialects in the southeast corner of Chinese Mainland, which identified themselves as Han Chinese.
Even when KMT just entered Taiwan, Taiwan, which had just been liberated from the Japanese colonists, welcomed the arrival of the “motherland’s army”.
It is equally reasonable to regard the Taiwan people as ethnic groups different from the Chinese and to deny that the Chinese in Southeast Asia are Chinese.

Last edited 1 month ago by Wolf sly
kam mac
kam mac
1 month ago

“One China” does not translate to one land mass. It’s an issue of the PRC vs Nationalists that became synonymous with Taiwan- the island. The western governments are the ones that have mucked this up and continue to do so by connecting the two.

Martin Boyle
Martin Boyle
2 months ago

Some valid points, but it is mostly the well-worn Taiwanese nationalist narrative coupled with the standard critique of National-Humiliation-driven Chinese nationalism, some Liberal (in the European not American sense) knee-jerk anti-Communism and musings on the dastardly inner workings of Xi Jinping’s mind thrown in for good measure (see Putin, Assad etc. for other examples). It’s a stripped-down historical overview with some important omissions and elisions that play fast-and-loose with the facts and debates.
For sure, the Chinese nationalists abandoned Taiwan to the Japanese and only started caring about it during WWII. It’s also true that most people in Taiwan want to stick to the current status quo of de facto but not de jure independence. However, the PRC’s claim is more than just brute colonialism – there’s geopolitics, perceived US threat, the fact that the UN and all but a handful of insignificant states recognise the PRC’s claim to Taiwan and, of course, the status of the ROC (which happens to be signalled for all to see in those pictures of Nancy Pelosi and Tsai Ing-wen).
It is simply wrong to say that the Nationalists and Communists recognised the ‘Taiwanese’ as a distinct minzu. The ‘Taiwanese’ are a nationality in the Western sense (just as the ‘Chinese’ are), first defined as such by Taiwanese nationalists during the struggle against the authoritarian Kuomintang and during early democratisation. They were originally those who traced their ancestry to Fujian and were in Taiwan before 1895 as opposed to the ‘Mainlanders’ who fled to Taiwan with the defeated Kuomintang in 1949. Both groups are ethnically Han Chinese and the distinction has broken down as they have both gradually identified nationally as ‘Taiwanese’ while acknowledging their ‘Chinese (Han) ethnicity’. The current DPP administration’s understanding of ‘Taiwanese’ as a nationality includes all Han (Mainlander, Taiwanese and Hakka) and Taiwan’s austronesian Indigenous groups.

Last edited 2 months ago by Martin Boyle
Bill Hayton
Bill Hayton
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Boyle

But what does ‘Han ethnicity’ mean? Is it anything more than a concept invented by Zou Rong in 1901 to mobilise anti-Manchu racism in the cause of revolution?

Last edited 2 months ago by Bill Hayton
Martin Boyle
Martin Boyle
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Hayton

Good point. Han is the idealised null category and that was indeed what the early Chinese nationalists created – and we know the modernist view of nations and nationalism. It was you who mentioned minzu in the first place, though.

harry storm
harry storm
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Boyle

The US doesn’t threaten China any more than NATO threatens Russia. It does, however, protect the free and prosperous Taiwanese from invasion and brutal oppression. Your willingness to ignore the democratic will of the Taiwanese and throw them under the wheels of a totalitarian dictatorship is disgusting.

Jake Dee
Jake Dee
2 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

If Americas involvement in Taiwan is to protect democracy from dictatorship and if the first democratic election was held in Taiwan in 1985, then how are we to explain American involvement in Taiwan before then ? The USA has been deeply involved in China since the early 19th century what was their motovation ?

harry storm
harry storm
2 months ago
Reply to  Jake Dee

Like South Korea, Taiwan began as an authoritarian state the US supported as part of the cold war with the Soviets and PRC. There. Simply explained. But in the here and now, both are successful and prosperous democratic states well worthy of continued support by the rest of the free world, the USA in particular. What’s the problem with that?

Paul O
Paul O
2 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

How does America (who to all intents and purposes is NATO) not threaten Russia? Are you saying the Cold War never happened?

harry storm
harry storm
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

I’m saying neither the US or it’s NATO allies have any designs whatsoever on Russian territory. Could you say the same about the Soviets during the Cold War or Russia today? I think the Baltic states, Poland, the Czechs, and even Finland and Sweden today have the answer to that.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
1 month ago
Reply to  harry storm

It’s worth remembering that Russia invaded the Baltic states in 1940 (i.e. before Germany invaded Russia). This tends to be forgotten because WW2 was distracting everyone else’s attention.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

Cold War happened because Soviet Union conquered and oppressed countries in Eastern and Central Europe.
Whereas USA liberated Western Europe and provided Marshall Plan aid to rebuild it.
Only moron, or Russian stooge, does not understand the difference.

Martin Boyle
Martin Boyle
2 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

‘Disgusting’? The US also protected Chiang Kai-shek’s “Free China”, which was anything but free and brutally crushed the democratic will of the Taiwanese people under the wheels of a totalitarian dictatorship between 1945 and 1987. But Chiang was vehemently anti-Communist, so that was OK.

harry storm
harry storm
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Boyle

Irrelevant in the here and now. And calling Chiang’s shambolic authoritarian government totalitarian is a wee bit of a stretch.

Martin Boyle
Martin Boyle
2 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

Well it certainly exercised a totalising philosophy through sinification, the White Terror and the regimentation of society under quasi-fascist symbols and myths. So the definition appears to hold.
How long does the here-and-now last and so what?

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Boyle

Do you have a problem with people being anti Communist?

Last edited 2 months ago by Andrew F
Colin MacDonald
Colin MacDonald
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Boyle

The UN and all but a few micro states don’t recognize Taiwan because that’s what the US decided back in 1972. Nothing to do with our attitude to China.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
2 months ago

The United Nations moved first and booted Taiwan in 1971. The United States was a laggard, not a leader.

harry storm
harry storm
2 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Without Us support the Security ,Council would not have been able to replace ROC with PROC. Duh!

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
2 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

The 1971 vote to expel the Republic of China and admit the People’s Republic of China was by the General Assembly. The United States voted no, but lost. The Security Council switch from the ROC to the PRC was automatic and was not voted on separately.
The US was already taking steps in 1971 towards recognizing the PRC, but did not actually do so until 1979. Many other countries had acted well before the US. The UK, for example, recognized the PRC as the only China way back in 1950.

Last edited 2 months ago by Carlos Danger
Iris C
Iris C
2 months ago

What an interesting article!
The reference to Taiwan’s relationship with China being like Britain’s relationship with Ireland seemed apt given their similar histories, with one country dominant. The fact that Britain and Ireland have now worked through their differences, suggests to me that it would be in the best interest of both countries if friendly diplomatic ties were established – perhaps a consortium from the Far East could act as peacemaker and go-between.
How good it would be if the USA encouraged this rather than “twisting the tail” of China and threatening war.
Are you not fed-up of America always steering us towards war against far-off countries? I certainly am!

Last edited 2 months ago by Iris C
Paul O
Paul O
2 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

Diplomacy. Now there’s a great idea. Alas, our ‘leaders’ have preferred war over real diplomacy for decades. The problem is that this time they’re picking fights with two countries who are capable of fighting back.

Lo Louise
Lo Louise
2 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

This article is not telling the whole story unfortunately. Taiwan and China is not Ireland and the UK for a simple fact: Taiwan government (led by Guomindang) used to rule china as the legal government. But the Irish government never ruled the UK.

Iris C
Iris C
2 months ago
Reply to  Lo Louise

Of course you are correct but I still think diplomacy is the way forward to avoid the threat of war made by Nancy Poloni (?) on behalf of the USA.

Laurence Eyton
Laurence Eyton
1 month ago
Reply to  Lo Louise

Ironically the GuoMinDang might have been the sovereign government of China but they have never been the sovereign government of Taiwan. Their status in 1945 was as an occupying administration pending a peace treaty determining sovereignty and that peace treaty (San Francisco 1952) did NOT give sovereignty over Taiwan to the GuoMinDang “Republic of China” government—not anyone else, in fact. The GMD’s claims of sovereignty over Taiwan were as illegitimate as those of Beijing.