No Misleading Taiwan
Firstly, Holmes is constructing a situation of “one China, one Taiwan” by referring to Taiwan as a protagonist or antagonist, and China’s mainland as Taiwan’s opponent or aggressor in “today’s China-Taiwan competition.” There is but one China in the world, and both the mainland and Taiwan belong to this China. China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity brooks no division, and any words or deeds aimed at creating “one China, one Taiwan” is firmly opposed by the Chinese government and people.
Secondly, the main theme of the current relations across the Taiwan Strait is cooperation, not contest. Since May 2008, the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations has gained momentum. It is fair to say that the present cross-Strait relations are the best in several decades. “Three direct links” of cross-Strait mail, trade, air and shipping services have now been realized, despite being regarded by many as “mission impossible.” The signing of the cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in 2010 has greatly accelerated the expansion of economic and trade exchanges and cooperation. Exchanges and cooperation in the fields of culture, travel, financial services and education have become a matter of daily routine. It is encouraging that the sustained improvement of cross-Strait relations has started to move from economic and trade areas to discussions on political matters, with a deeper common understanding on the one-China principle. From time to time people with breadth of vision in Taiwan call for defense cooperation between the mainland and Taiwan in the South China and East China Sea. Under such circumstances, it is only harmful to Taiwan to emphasize that “to balk Chinese aggression, Taiwan needs a Competitive Strategies Initiative all its own”.
Thirdly, Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait have a growing desire for peace, stability and development. It is unpopular to advise Taiwan to adopt “small-ship tactics–a kind of people’s war at sea” strategy. Compatriots in the mainland and Taiwan are brothers and sisters of the same blood. They have now a firm common goal to build lasting peace across the Strait through win-win cooperation. As greater common interests are realized through business exchanges and economic cooperation, and bonds of affection are enhanced through cultural exchanges and direct personal interactions, a vast majority of people in Taiwan are in favor of the current peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and continuing exchanges and cooperation between the two sides of the Strait. Radical forces advocating the independence of Taiwan have persisted yet have been weakened. Therefore, there are good prospects for building lasting peace across the Strait.
Fourthly, it would inevitably harm the interests of all the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to treat the two sides of the Strait as “protagonists in a seesaw competition” or “two wrestlers in a grudge match”, and it is even more damaging to go so far as to offer them strategies to“struggle for strategic advantage.” Therefore, many of Holmes’ arguments are neither logical nor constructive.
It therefore doesn’t carry much weight to weigh whether the mainland or Taiwan is economically stronger, but it is necessary to help both sides of the Strait to understand the economic interdependence and complementary features, so as to further promote exchanges and cooperation for mutual benefit.
With regards to armed forces and military equipment, while saying that “outright military victory now exceeds Taiwan’s grasp”, Prof. Holmes believes in “strategic artistry and well-chosen force acquisitions” as well as procurements of naval ships and missiles. Here, enough attention should be paid to the popular sentiments on both sides of the Strait. The idea that Chinese don’t fight Chinese is shared by more and more people. It is more welcome to help promote military mutual trust than to advocate conflict between the two sides of the Strait.
Finally, a win-win outcome for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should replace Holmes’ strategy for “winning without fighting”, as it is quite obvious that there would be no winner in a conflict between the two sides of the Strait. China’s mainland will never engage in unaffordable competition with Taiwan by following the footsteps of the Soviet Union, but will work earnestly with its compatriots in Taiwan, make further efforts to promote the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and realize lasting peace across the Taiwan Strait.
Wu Zurong is a research fellow at the China Foundation for International Studies.