China Needs To Stop Bullying Taiwan

Could Be Wrong
5 min readApr 19, 2020

I cannot get my head around how the People’s Republic of China (PRC) can justify a takeover of Taiwan. There’s a lot you can read about whether Taiwan belongs to the CCP or not given its tumultuous history and occupation by Japan. I’m of the opinion that between the PRC and the Republic of China (ROC), the ROC holds the greater claim to the island, but even if I didn’t believe that, a nation has a right to self-determination and if a majority of Taiwanese citizens identify as Taiwanese only, and not Chinese (with only 3.7% identifying as only Chinese), what right does China have to take over their country?

I’m trying to think of a world where I would share China’s sentiment. Say that China occupies Tasmania for fifty years (same amount of time Japan held Taiwan) and now Tasmania has grown somewhat comfortable with the Chinese way of life. China eventually leaves but Tasmania decides it wants to stay independent from Australia because their values simply diverge too much. What right does Australia have to say ‘tough luck, you’re brainwashed and we’re going to reabsorb you into our nation whether you like it or not’. Maybe we understand that their values have changed and they want independence, but their newfound affinity for China, while being in a strategic geopolitical position, is a military nightmare waiting to happen should China decide to invade Australia as a whole. That might give stronger cause to ‘reunify the Great Southern Land’, but I still can’t imagine the moral justification behind a government takeover of a nation of citizens who all want nothing to do with the country they were once a part of.

And I’m not convinced that the geopolitically strategic position of Taiwan is the main reason behind the desire for reunification. Most of the language coming from both the CCP and random commenters on youtube (who are perhaps one and the same?) revolves around ‘destiny’ and ‘glory’. They cite the Century Of Humiliation’ that will be redeemed by reaching full unification. If I had to steel-man (opposite of straw-man) this position, I would say that there is a psychological cost to being humiliated on a national level, and that calls to glory and destiny might not just alleviate that shared pain, but would also give people’s lives meaning in a time when the remaining meaning in the world shrinks each day. If the 24 million Taiwanese citizens want nothing more than to stay out of the CCP’s hair, that’s too bad, because there are 1.4 billion Chinese whose hearts can beat as one on the path to reunification.

We should encourage the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits to unite and pursue a common endeavor. The compatriots on both sides belong to the same Chinese nation and form a community of common destiny bound by blood ties; and we have every reason to care about and trust each other, jointly advance cross-Straits relations, and share in the fruits of development. We will make every effort to do anything that will promote the common wellbeing of the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. We should fully protect the rights and interests of our Taiwan compatriots and work with them to safeguard and build the common home of the Chinese nation. — Hu Jintao

I’m all for utilitarianism, but I think when it comes to violating the rights of individuals, or more generally, ignoring the wishes of an entire country to be left alone, you’d need to have a pretty colossal upside to it for moral justification. I don’t think China’s national pride is important enough to tip the scales, anymore than Germany’s humiliation in WWI justified the atrocities of WWII.

Is this just a fundamental difference in values between individualists and collectivists? To some degree, I believe so. Collectivists, for reasons I cannot understand, place group wellbeing above the wellbeing of the individual. But groups are composed of individuals, and it’s only individuals who can suffer. And you’re talking about over 20 million individuals united in opposition to China, it begs the question of whether a takeover would be justified even under collectivist reasoning.

There’s another side to this which I find particularly pernicious: the argument around a peaceful takeover. I’ve seen people saying ‘Taiwan should peacefully reunite with China. Taiwan doesn’t want to outright claim independence, because that will start a civil war and tonnes of people will die’ (never mind the fact that the civil war started in 1927 technically never ended). That’s like putting a gun to someone’s head and saying ‘if you scream I’ll kill you and then I’ll also have to kill any witnesses that show up, and it’ll all be your fault’. If you take military action that costs lives, that’s on you. If you’re doing it because somebody pissed you off my asserting their independence, it’s still on you.

Article 8: In the event that the “Taiwan independence” secessionist forces should act under any name or by any means to cause the fact of Taiwan’s secession from China, or that major incidents entailing Taiwan’s secession from China should occur, or that possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. — Anti-Secession Law

Maybe I’ve missed something but I can’t find any moral justification for China taking over Taiwan, and I think the sooner it can gain proper independence and climb out of its de-facto country status, the better. But that’s not going to happen until China stops being such a bully. And that’s not going to happen until the call for democracy in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests is finally heard.



Could Be Wrong

Less and less certain of my opinions with every passing day