EDITORIAL: Integration with China is a dead end

Former Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) explained on Saturday her idea of ​​replacing “unification” with China with “integration”.

Doesn’t Lu think the idea would be welcome in its current form; rather, she wants to spark a discussion on a third way out of the current impasse between unification and independence, especially given the heightened concerns about China’s attack on Taiwan following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

She apparently framed her ideas around the number “three”.

First, she envisions cross-Strait relations developing in three stages: getting Beijing to abandon the idea of ​​unifying a “one China” (一個中國); then replacing this with “integration” of a more abstract entity “one China” (一個中華) – the difference in the final Chinese character is essential, as it implies ethnicity rather than state or nation – along EU or ASEAN lines; and finally moving on to the formation of a “Chinese Federation” (中華邦聯) which would include Singapore.

Singapore’s inclusion betrays a lack of understanding of that nation’s longstanding policy of careful calibration of ethnic balance: Singapore would have great reservations about joining a “Chinese nation” alliance.

Second, she would like to see a “golden triangle of Northeast Asia” including Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, as well as the formation of an “Alliance of Pacific Democracies” that would include the aforementioned group. , plus the United States and Canada on the other side. of the Pacific. She would also like these two alliances to balance each other, as well as the US-China relationship and the cross-Strait relationship.

Lu also put forward his “Three Wars” (三戰說) concept of “keeping peace, avoiding war, avoiding bloodshed” – the same idea expressed in three different ways – or the idea of “preparing for war” (備戰), which includes facing war (面對戰爭), recognizing what war is (認識戰爭), and avoiding war (避免戰爭).

A response can also come from three directions.

First, taken at face value, an idea that could genuinely resolve the current impasse and avert war should be seen as a desirable addition to the debate. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Taiwanese have seen in Ukraine how naive the idea of ​​a quick conclusion to any possible invasion of Taiwan is and how brutal, long and costly in human life and economically devastating it would be.

Lu intends to reduce tensions with his idea of ​​offering an alternative roadmap to Beijing – it could at the very least buy more time for other options to be explored – and to develop his suggested network of balancing alliances that would also strengthen Taiwan’s voice internationally in a uniquely Asian way and not too dependent on the United States.

Second, the political perspective. Lu has long been associated with the Democratic Progressive Party, but her speeches about rapprochement with the CCP and her “provocative” moves are closer to the approach of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and its suspicions of the strategic policy of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). proximity to the United States. It also reflects Russian President Vladimir Putin’s accusations that the United States and NATO forced his hand by invading Ukraine.

The third is the biggest flaw in his thinking. His veiled accusations of provocation completely ignore the role of the CCP and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), not only in being the aggressor, but also in believing that he would accept his ideas or be trusted to honor them at the future.

Even though Beijing has signaled tentative interest in the idea, the CCP is notorious for its unreliability and its phasing out of agreed terms to achieve what it wanted in the first place.

Lu is right to want to avoid war, but she is surprisingly naive in the solution she offers due to her apparent misunderstanding of what the CCP wants from Taiwan.

Reconciliation may buy time, but as a solution to securing long-term peace or protecting Taiwan’s sovereignty, independence or identity, it is a dead end.

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