Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 21-Mar-08
China's crackdown on Tibet is swaying the Taiwan presidential election

Web Log - March, 2008

China's crackdown on Tibet is swaying the Taiwan presidential election

Ugly memories of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre are being revived.

In generational theory, China's 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre is an example of an "Awakening climax" -- an event so profound that it resolutely settles the "generation gap" political battles of the recent or ongoing Awakening era in favor of either the old generation of crisis war survivors, or the young generation of rebels.

In America's Awakening era, it was the resignation of Richard Nixon that signaled a victory of the Boomer generation over the WW II GI generation.

In China, the Tiananmen Square massacre firmly established Mao Zedong's generation as the political victors over the young generation, and today the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is mostly led by Maoists in their 70s.

The people of Taiwan, watching the Tiananmen Square massacre from across the Taiwan Straits in 1989, were absolutely horrified.

Up to that time, the unchallenged assumption was that Taiwan would eventually reunite with China (the so-called "One China policy"). There was essentially only one political party, the Kuomintang Party (KMT).

But the Tiananmen Square massacre gave rise in Taiwan to a student movement called the "Wild Lily rebellion," formed to demand political reform in Taiwan, and to develop a unique Taiwanese identity different from that of China.

This rebellion evolved rather quickly into the new Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). DPP chairman Chen Shui-bian became Taiwan's president in 2000, and was reelected in 2004 in a wild election battle.

Beijing's CCP has never tired of expressing contempt and hatred for Chen Shui-bian and his DPP party, but they've lived with it by issuing one threat of war after another if the Taiwan government makes any moves at all towards an independent Taiwan.

One of the moves that most infuriated the Taiwanese was China's "Anti-Secession" law, which commits China to forcibly repatriating Taiwan to China.

In August 2006, Sha Zukang, the Chinese ambassador to the U.N., furiously and harshly threatened the U.S. over Taiwan. He was literally screaming in an interview with a BBC reporter:

"The moment that Taiwan declares independence, supported by whomever, China will have no choice but to [use] whatever means available to my government. Nobody should have any illusions on that. ...

It's not a matter of how big Taiwan is, but for China, one INCH of the territory is more valuable than the LIVES of our people."

[With regard to the U.S.'s constant criticism of China's rapid militarization:] It's better for the U.S. to shut up, keep quiet. That's much, much better. China's population is 6 times or 5 times the United States. Why blame China? No. forget it. It's high time to shut up. It's a nation's sovereign right to do what is good for them. But don't tell us what's good for China. Thank you very much."

And so it was with a measure of some relief to Beijing to see that Ma Ying-jeou, the KMT Presidential candidate, had a substantial double-digit lead over Frank Hsieh, the DPP candidate, according to polls in advance of the planned election on Saturday, March 22.

But now Ma's lead as fallen sharply, as Hsieh has been using the Tibet violence to bring back memories of Tiananmen Square.

According to the NY Times:

"Mainland Chinese officials loathe Taiwan’s current president, Chen Shui-bian, and his party, the Democratic Progressive Party, for pursuing greater political separation from the mainland.

Beijing authorities have been wary of the party’s candidate, Frank Hsieh, even though Mr. Hsieh has repeatedly voiced much more willingness than President Chen to allow more Taiwanese investment on the mainland and more cross-straits transportation links.

Mr. Hsieh and his party, with help from President Chen’s ministers, have moved swiftly to turn Tibet into a central issue in the campaign. They contend that Tibet’s fate is an example of Taiwan’s future if it does not stand up to Beijing.

“What has happened in Tibet in the past three decades, and what is going on now, is a warning to us,” said Shieh Jhy-wey, the minister of information and a Democratic Progressive Party hard-liner toward Beijing. “We don’t want to have the same fate as Tibet.”

Mr. Hsieh abruptly turned a campaign rally in Taipei on Wednesday night into a candlelight vigil for Tibetans who have been killed, injured or detained during the Chinese crackdown. Party activists unfurled a huge Tibetan flag and Tibetan students sang a Tibetan anthem."

Ma has been resorting to damage control. A recent statement by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China suggesting that Taiwan's future is with China, Ma condemned what he described as a, “ruthless, irrational, arrogant, foolish and self-righteous comment.”

The extremely paranoid Beijing CCP officials have their backs to the wall right now. They will not tolerate any sign of secession, from either Tibet or Taiwan, and there are signs that they're already overreacting in Tibet. This is only increasing secessionist desires in both places.

But as much as Beijing would like to clamp down even harder, they're restricted from doing so for fear of an international boycott of the summer Olympics. This would be an enormous humiliation.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the US and China are headed for war over Taiwan. The only question is timing.

A victory by Ma on Saturday would do a lot to reduce tensions for a while. A victory by Hsieh would substantially increase tensions.

The worst case scenario for Beijing on Saturday would be a victory for Hsieh, accompanied by a "YES" vote on a referendum that calls on Taiwan to join the United Nations as a member separate from China. Even worse, the Tibet situation could become even more violent.

In this worst case scenario, Beijing may well take some kind of action once the Olympics games end.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, what's fascinating about this situation is how the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre is reverberating forward through history, bouncing like a ball from Beijing to Taiwan to Tibet to Washington and back again. China has been trying to erase memories of the massacre ever since it occurred, and now it's up in their face at precisely the time they want it least -- the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. (21-Mar-08) Permanent Link
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