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


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 23-Mar-08
Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Ma Ying-jeou overwhelmingly wins Taiwan presidency

Web Log - March, 2008

Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Ma Ying-jeou overwhelmingly wins Taiwan presidency

In a major change of political direction, Taiwan's voters elected Ma Ying-jeou by the largest margin of victory in the history of Taiwan's presidential races.

Ma's Nationalist Party (or Kuomintang party or KMT) candidacy defeated Frank Hsieh of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the party of outgoing president Chen Shui-bian.

Voters shrugged off concerns about China's violent crackdown in Tibet, and the fear that China would crack down similarly on Taiwan, focusing instead on Taiwan's economic troubles, and the economic advantages of greater trade opportunities with the mainland.

Voters also rejected referendums that would have called on the government to try to gain Taiwan's admission to the United Nations separate from China. (The two countries' officials names are "Republic of China" or ROC, and "People's Republic of China" or PRC, respectively.)

The Central Election Commission also said two referendums calling on the government to work for the island's entry into the United Nations failed. China had warned that the referendums threatened stability in the region.

What's old is new again

Ma's victory, and his desire for closer relations with China, closes a circle that's almost a century old. After the (Awakening era) Chinese Revolution of 1911, the political chaos led, in the 1920s, to the Nationalist government led by Chiang Kai-shek. Challenging Chiang was the Communist faction, based on Russia's recent Bolshevik revolution, and led by Mao Zedong. Mao's "Long March" in 1934 launched the civil war between the two factions. The civil war ended in 1949, with Chiang's Nationalists fleeing to the offshore island of Formosa which, together with some other islands, form the province or nation (depending on your point of view) of Taiwan.

Communist China and Communist Russia (in the form of the Soviet Union) never got along very well, and never really had much in common, except for each having slaughtered tens of millions of people, and in the 1960s there was international concern that they two countries were close to nuclear war with each other. (Such a war, if it had occurred, would have been a non-crisis war for both nations, and most likely have ended quickly, with no use of nuclear weapons, following great political opposition to the war in both countries.)

Nonetheless, as the two major "Communist" countries of the world, China and the Soviet Union felt a kind of kinship that was completely shattered by the momentous events of 1989 and after:

Things came to a head when Taiwan's DPP won the Presidency in March, 2000. A shocked CCP clamped down on the Falun Gong in April, 2000, brutally repressing it. Falun Gong advocates claim that thousands of Chinese have been jail or executed, simply for practicing meditation exercises.

The CCP are the most paranoid people on earth today -- afraid of the Tibetans, the Falun Gong followers, and the people of Taiwan -- and even afraid of their own people, who have tens of thousands of anti-CPP demonstrations every year.

Ma Ying-jeou

Beijing has never ceased to express its continuing contempt for the DPP, and has openly stated that it favored the victory of KMT candidate Ma Ying-jeou.

That's why Ma's victory brings a circle to a close. The Nationalists and the Communists were allies in the 1920s. Then they split apart and fought a war, and became each other's hated enemy. But now they're back together again, promoting peace and harmony and cooperative economic development.

Ma Ying-jeou was born in Hong Kong in 1950 -- his parents were in the midst of fleeing to Taiwan, but had to pause in Hong Kong to give birth. Ma is Harvard educated, and speaks English well.

The irony aside, the question arises whether this means a détente in Taiwan / China relations. Ma is certainly not going to make it easy for Beijing. His "pro-China" campaign stressed closer business ties with China, but no peace treaty with China until Beijing dismantles its arsenal of missiles aimed at targets in Taiwan.

Election euphoria

One of the interesting things about Ma is that when you read the recent news profiles about him, some of them describe him as "charismatic," and others describe him as definitely "not charismatic." I guess it depends on chemistry and politics.

But his promises of change do seem to have gotten him elected on a wave of euphoria similar to the euphoria that's been surrounding Barack Obama in America. Such waves of euphoria always quickly dissolve within a few weeks or months, as the promised changes don't materialize, leaving an electorate that feels angry and betrayed, and looking for someone to blame.

One of the most bizarre signs of that euphoria was contained in a BBC pre-election report on Friday, describing a ferry service running across the Straits of Taiwan between the Chinese town of Xiamin, and the Taiwan island of Jinmen. Here's the final portion of the report (my transcription):

"In the booming [Taiwanese] capital Taipei, China might be on everyone's minds, but not so much as an enemy, but as vital to making money and trade. Past grievances are irrelevant against the needs to get on with life.

And those in the know say that China decided some years back that it would not be taking military action over Taiwan, no matter what.

Chong-pin Lin, Foundation on Cross-Strait Studies: "Beijing made the decision in summer of 2002 thinking that the economic development of China is more important then unification of the so-called 'motherland.'"

No one's actually announced that, but well there are regular direct ferries between Jinmen and Xiamin in what was once a flash point for global conflict.

Humphrey Hawksley, BBC News on the outlying Taiwanese island of Jinmen.

Now, I'm used to hearing bizarre things on the BBC, but this really tops the list. "People in the know"???? Who are they? Is Lin Chong-pin one of those people? It turns out that he's a supporter of the hated (by China) DPP party, so how would he ever get to be "in the know?"

This is exactly the kind of airhead expectation that's been occurring in places around the world, as the world enters a generation crisis era, 62 years after the end of World War II.

The Chinese have repeatedly threatened the United States with war over Taiwan, and have repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan itself, and that's not going to change. China continues to accelerate its massive military buildup, preparing for war against Taiwan and the United States, and that's not going to change either.

Meanwhile, here are two "reality checks":

Here's President Bush's statement on the election results:

"I congratulate the people of Taiwan on the successful conclusion of their March 22 presidential election. Once again, Taiwan has demonstrated the strength and vitality of its democracy. I also congratulate Mr. Ma Ying-jeou on his victory.

Taiwan is a beacon of democracy to Asia and the world. I am confident that the election and the democratic process it represents will advance Taiwan as a prosperous, secure, and well-governed society.

It falls to Taiwan and Beijing to build the essential foundations for peace and stability by pursuing dialogue through all available means and refraining from unilateral steps that would alter the cross-Strait situation. I believe the election provides a fresh opportunity for both sides to reach out and engage one another in peacefully resolving their differences.

The maintenance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the welfare of the people on Taiwan remain of profound importance to the United States. We will continue to maintain close unofficial ties with the people on Taiwan through the American Institute in Taiwan in accordance with our long standing one China policy, our three Joint Communiqués with the People's Republic of China, and the Taiwan Relations Act."

What many people don't understand, except for the readers of this web site, is that a war over Taiwan could begin as early as tomorrow, if just one of these three parties miscalculates, panics and overreacts to something. Generational Dynamics predicts that there will be such a war next week, next month, next year, or thereafter, but it is coming with absolute certainty. (23-Mar-08) Permanent Link
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