Responding to my column on China and Taiwan, a reader writes:
Briefly, I have lived in Taiwan on and off since 1980. I presently teach at a national university.
I think your story was a good article, but there is only one point I would disagree with. I think, you think, that Chinese feelings cannot be changed. In fact, it is easy to change the attitudes of the whole country of China. The youth in China that you described all say they will never give Taiwan back, but that conviction, I believe, is not deep. Should the authorities change their line, the Chinese people will, I am quite sure, follow it. After all, most, if not all, of those Chinese have never been to Taiwan and really, don't care about Taiwan. I have spoken, I like you, with many mainland Chinese intellectuals and your depiction is totally accurate. Yet, I never got the feeling they cared all that much about the issue. America was once the villain of the Chinese, and all most over night became China's friend. The Chinese people accepted this change without hardly a thought.
Also I think there is an interesting dilemma for China ahead. If they liberalize, which would be a prerequisite for reunification, they would also, through the process of liberalizing, give up their hard line claim to Taiwan. Thus, I honestly do not believe that the situation is nearly as bleak as many claim it is. Now, if China does not liberalize, then no one in Taiwan would favor reunification, not even the pro-reunification group.
I might also add that if you read more history, for example George Kerr's book Formosa Betrayed, you will know that the US has not only taken the role of standing between tthese two adversaries, but in fact, played a part in creating the mess by not following international law at the time--by, in fact, betraying the rights of the people of Taiwan following WWII.
I am happy you have explained the issue to the American public, and trust me, it even needs explaining to the Taiwanese public. I do hope though that the US works to defend the rights of the citizens of Taiwan for self-determination.
I was one, like almost everyone in the world, who never imagined that Lativia, Lithuania, and Estonia, as well as Belarus, Georgia, etc. would ever be independent countries. Having been shocked and surprised once, I have learned a lesson. Like you, I too am basically sympathetic to the Taiwanese, but I remember not to predict the future. Also, remember, the USA gained independence against the mightiest empire on earth at the time. So, I will continue to hope and to remain optimistic.
Respond to this view.