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.