Taiwan: What is behind the difficult Taiwan-China relationship?

U.S. officials say a gunman behind a church in southern California was killed and five others were injured in what became known as the “Hate of Taiwan.”

Although born in Taiwan, David Chou resented the Taiwanese and reportedly had ties to a China-backed organization dedicated to advancing Beijing’s goal of forcibly annexing the self-governing island.

It has revived questions about the complex and sometimes hostile relationship between the two sides, which broke apart in the civil war in 1949 and has since taken a very different path – one towards liberal democracy, the other towards increasingly repressive authoritarian rule under the Chinese Communist Party. , Which Taiwan claims, although the island has never ruled.

Below is a look at that context and the current situation between the parties.

What is the history between China and Taiwan?

Taiwan was a Chinese province for only 10 years before it was ceded to Japan as a colony in 1895, and later, at the end of World War II, the Republic of Chiang Kai-shek was ceded to China. Taiwan seceded from China again in 1949 when Chiang transferred his government to the island when Mao Zedong’s Communists came to power on the mainland.

Although they have established strong economic ties, political reconciliation efforts have stumbled in recent years as Taiwan claims its own identity and China claims the island will accept its terms for unification.

What about the partition in Taiwan?

Indigenous Taiwanese and mainland immigrants were primarily divided by language, culture, and politics, while mainlanders continued to have close ties with China and eventually retained Chiang’s dream of returning home as victors. Under nearly four decades of military rule, political power rested primarily on the mainland, while Taiwanese individuals dominated the private sector.

Although there were some intermarriages, quarrels, conflicts and harassment were not uncommon between them. Some mainland youths form organized crime, gangs involved with the government and the military, in part as a way to protect their interests. Among the younger islanders, such divisions have largely diminished with the development of separate Taiwanese identities.

Now 68, Chou seems to be a fairly typical role model for “second-generation mainland” compatriots who have never fully integrated into Taiwanese society or come to see the island as anything other than a province of China with which they continue to identify.

Chou seemed to have left Taiwan long before the democratization process and the adoption of Taiwan’s identity, so according to “Taiwanese values ​​fairly fringe,” his participation in the reunification group, says University of Taiwan historian James Lin. Washington.

Taiwanese politics is “different from fringe diasporic politics,” Lin said.

What are the policies of the government?

China has said that Taiwan is a part of its territory which has no right to independent recognition or representation on the world stage. Beijing has denied any contact with its government since Taiwan’s President Tsai Ying-wen took office in 2016.

China regularly sends military aircraft to identify Taiwan’s air defenses, which they call the threat of force. It has taken on increasingly terrifying language, warning that Tsai, his ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party and others will have to pay a heavy price for rejecting his demands, and that Taiwan will be attacked if it declares formal independence.

Tsai said there was no need for Taiwan to make such a declaration as it was already de-facto independent, and refused to meet China’s basic demands that it recognize Taiwan as part of the Chinese nation. He has built on Taiwan’s traditionally strong ties with the United States, Japan and other allies as he seeks to enhance the armed forces’ ability to repel a possible Chinese attack.

How do their public view the situation?

China does not allow an independent vote on the question, but public sentiment continues to be strong in favor of its argument for the need and inevitability of unity among the parties. This is in line with the relentless propaganda of the Communist Party on the issue and the strong nationalist tone it has adopted since the jetting of orthodox Marxism.

In contrast, support for unification in Taiwan’s opinion polls has dropped to a single percentage point, with the overwhelming majority in favor of maintaining the status quo of de-facto independence. The government and many social organizations support this view, most of which are now exclusively branded as Taiwanese. The Presbyterian Church, whose parishioners attacked the Church of California, is closely associated with the pro-democracy movement and the promotion of Taiwan’s independent identity. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

Concerns have also been raised about Chinese influence in the Taiwanese media and the impact of the propaganda campaign by the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, which works under the radar of the foreign Chinese community and Taiwan to promote China’s political agenda. At a news conference in Taipei on Wednesday, Presbyterian cleric Chen Shin-liang said the government should “arrest the incident in order to confront the hate speech spread by some United Front groups in Taiwan.”

Conflict is frequent?

Tensions are higher now than in a few years, but outside of China’s military threat, they are largely embellished and embroiled in diplomatic squabbles.

The foreign, Chinese and Taiwanese communities overlap in some situations, but Beijing’s demand for political allegiance creates deep rifts. While Taiwanese and Chinese maintain their own student groups on campus, China maintains strict control over its citizens. That situation is reflected in the business community and politically affiliated groups, such as the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reinformation, with which Chou is said to have had ties. Since the shooting, photos of Chou speaking at a group event at his home in Las Vegas have surfaced.

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