Will Taiwan be the New Saigon?

Jul 22, 2020 | 360, China, GOV, NEWS, Op-Ed, Taiwan

Saigon, Vietnam ©Lauri Heikkinen

Taiwan is a living example of a formidable tale of human quest for freedom.  The sheer will power and resistance of the Taiwanese to avoid subjugation has acquired the status of a folk-tale worth being repeated untiringly.  But alas!  This is one story that underscores that all folk-tales do not necessarily have a happy ending. China may had played its role as the evil witch to perfection.

The Taiwanese, for the last many years, are habitual to waking up every morning to a dose of ‘bad news’.  Only the intensity varies.  Similar complaints continue to be registered by other ASEAN countries. Dealing with the ‘maniac’ appears to be consuming a greater part of the waking hours in these countries. But China continues to be oblivious even as it displays all traits of a classical ‘sadist’.  On a normal day for the par, it is the PLA ships threatening poor fishermen just content enough to earn a livelihood, in fact even killing a Vietnamese. Fishermen are a far cry away from justice, when even the verdict of internationally recognized bodies like the Permanent Court of Arbitration is blatantly disregarded.  On certain other days, it is the aircraft crossing the Straits in aggressive posturing to induce uncertainty and snatch the peace of the Taiwanese. 

A Painting about Hong Kong Protest in Taipei.afp

Wall on Hong Kong Protest in Taipei Photo:afp

China continues to build artificial islands, notional cities and brisk militarization of disputed islands.  It alters the status quo unilaterally. It has no qualm in employing aggressive fishermen and maritime militia.  It has neither respect for the ecology nor the local economy. What exactly China wants is perhaps not clear to even the Chinese leadership, except that the pot is to be kept boiling till a fortuitous time occurs in the future to subsume territory. For the sake of perspective, it is the eighth time in the last two months that China has vitiated the atmosphere in the South China Sea. The only crystal clear thing at the moment is – the end is not in sight. 

Even more important, it is worth pondering as to whether the rest of the world can contain China with its full potential realized by 2049, if it cannot contain it even when it is near the half-way mark?  In essence, the world has a Hobson’s choice: either come expeditiously together to cut China to size now, or repent at leisure in the future of a ‘Mandarinize’ world.  For starters, the USA has recently conceded that China dominates the first island chain in all but full war conditions.

Refugees Stranded at Border August 1978 ©manhai

Refugees stranded at the border in August 1978 during the conflict with China in North Vietnam. (Photo by Jean-Claude LABBE / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Taiwan is being increasingly pushed into a corner.  It is simply not imaginable that China will celebrate her centenary year of founding in 2049, by when she wants to attain the superpower status, with the blemish of ‘unfinished agenda’ of Taiwan and elsewhere.  Even the blind should see this coming – that China’s investment in rapid modernization of its military is not for nothing.  Belligerence and hegemony will be the rule rather than the exception.  Let no one say that they were not informed – Taiwan is the first on the hit list.  Historical baggage apart, the favorable trade situation and the economic potential of a thriving Taiwan is reason enough for China to engulf it.

However, there is a catch in China’s (mis)calculations.  For all the growing noises it is making, and the investments it is pouring, China seems to forget that the ‘man’ is the most important component of the man-machine-mission triad.   It forgets real men win the battles, not machines.  China does not listen to others, but at the very least it should listen to their very own patron saint of communism, Karl Marx who had rightly observed that history repeats itself, first as tragedy and second as farce.  It appears to have forgotten in a hurry that more than 4,000 Chinese soldiers were killed in Saigon and its vicinity in the Sino-Vietnam war.  A few weeks ago, the unsuspecting Indian troops in Galwan exposed the true-worth of the pre-mediated advances of the chocolate soldiers, wherein the hunter (PLA troops) became the hunted.  

The increasing belligerence of China is intriguing.  Common sense dictates that one has to lie low during adversities.  On the contrary, China is appearing to stick its neck out by inviting trouble from all around.  The concept of ‘friendship’ appears to be alien to the Chinese.  Or, does it reek of unfounded superiority complex, that the ‘emperors’ are unable to find friends of their own ‘stature’? It speaks volumes that the pro-China Kuomintang took a severe drubbing in the Taiwan presidential and parliamentary polls in January this year, necessitating a rethink on its unpopular policy of seeking closer ties with China. It is also worth pondering as to why even an erratic Trump’s America triumphs over Xi’s Chinese dreams, in the battle of citizenship.   

Lastly, even if China were to wage a war on Taiwan, it will be fighting against 95% of the populace who happen to share the so-called ‘coveted’ Han gene pool.  It is a different story that China does not want its brothers to be represented even in a benign organization such as the World Health Organization. Fighting their own brothers to death is not a new event in history that a conscienceless and characterless state like China will find difficult to adopt.  This wake-up call is for the world to unite and save Taiwan from destruction and devastation that is bound to be unleashed.  It is not a matter of ‘if’ but a decision of ‘when’.