Taiwan: Strait choice

‘After the successful resolution of the Hong Kong and Macau issues, people are naturally turning their eyes beyond the Taiwan Strait – where lies the final leg of China’s reunification march.’ That was the view of China’s official Xinhua News Agency in December as officials hauled down the Portuguese flag over the first – and last – European colony in East Asia, and China declared Macau the second of its Special Administrative Regions after Hong Kong. In case the message should be lost on ‘Taiwan compatriots’, the agency added, ‘Chinese leaders have said on many occasions that settlement of the Taiwan question cannot be delayed indefinitely. With Macau’s return to the Motherland, the Taiwan issue is urgently placed before the entire Chinese people.’

The World Today Published 1 March 2000 Updated 27 October 2020 4 minute READ

Graham Hutchings

China Correspondent, The Daily Telegraph (1987-1998)

Taiwan, or the Republic of China on Taiwan as it prefers to be known, is indeed the last remaining territory severed from China in the nineteenth century yet still outside the control of the People’s Republic – the entity all but about thirty countries regard as the sole legitimate government of China. In this context, the idea that the recovery of Hong Kong in 1997 and Macau last year under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle has paved the way for complete reunification on Beijing’s terms, has a certain logic.

It is also full of errors, some of them dangerous. Firstly, Taiwan’s historical experience is fundamentally different from that of the former European colonies of Hong Kong and Macau. Secondly, China’s resumption of sovereignty over Taiwan would diminish the island’s democracy, and afford Beijing control over Taiwan’s technological prowess as well as its strategic location.

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