International Opinion

Lack of perspective on Taiwan-China tensions

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The flags of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong (image by Patara via Wikimedia Commons)

When we look at the issue of Taiwan we must also reflect on how Taiwan was taken by the U.S.-backed Kuomintang nationalists and how it was not a peaceful takeover.

It also has to be remembered, and what is not always reported, is that Taiwan is not a de jure sovereign country.

Immediately after the Japanese surrender in WWII, the United States under what is termed General Order No. 1 turned Taiwan over to Chiang Kai Shek's Kuomintang nationalist troops on 17 August 1945, whilst China was embroiled in a civil war.

When taking over Taiwan, Chiang Kai Shek's Kuomintang troops started looting from the locals who were already impoverished from Japanese occupation.

This issue came to a head with locals when nationalist soldiers impounded tobacco from a 40-year-old widowed woman, who when demanded it been returned was hit on the head with a butt of a gun. A crowd formed to protest the action and the troops shot and killed one of the crowd.

This sparked protests where many locals were killed, bringing on martial law in February 1947

It was lifted in May, but martial law was reinstated from April 1948 to July 1987 which saw jailing, torture and executions.

This use and abuse of martial law came to a head in March 1987, when Vietnamese refugees in a boat were heading to Taiwan-occupied Kinmen island, just a few kilometres off China's coast. These refugees were massacred in their boat by the Taiwan navy, even though they were waving a white flag.

This international incident led to the lifting of the White Terror martial law in July 1987.

October 2021 air identification incident

Relating to the recent report of China flying near Taiwan in October 2021, we should first look at what zone China is alleged to have flown their planes into, which is Taiwan's air defence identification zone.

Taiwan's air defence identification zone extends into three of mainland China's provinces, which are Fujian, Jiangxi and Zhejiang.

Taiwan's air identification zone

There is every chance Chinese military planes are going to fly in Taiwan's air defence identification zone. In public information available to everyone, which is barely reported, is where the fight path of Chinese military planes took on October 21 2021.

This public information can be accessed from Taiwan's Ministry of Defence official Twitter account.

As we can see the Chinese planes were undertaking a short flight in a southeast direction going into the bottom corner of what Taiwan has as its air defence identification zone, not its actual sovereign air defence territory. 

The fight path is clearly not heading towards the Taiwan coast.

It has to be taken into account China is surrounded by U.S. military bases in Asia with a 23-kilometre range. U.S. M1 Howitzers are pointed at China on Kinmen Island, just a few kilometres from China's coastal city of Xiamen.

On reflection, it would be highly likely the U.S. would be flying into such an air defence identification zone if China had guns pointed at Long Beach, California, on Catalina Island, which is just 29 kilometres off the Long Beach coast. This is a perspective that is not taken into account.

With this latest reporting of the October incident, there seems to be very little perspective. It seeks to paint a picture of Chinese aggression and arguably promotes war-inciting narratives. 

Darrell Egan is a writer. 

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