Monday, March 30, 2009

Taiwan and South Korea — same same (Or, A brief comparative analysis of Outer Cháoxiān and the Renegade Chinese Province of Taiwan)

Through East Windup Chronicle, a great baseball blog, I read a bit of political news that the Dalai Lama "has been told to stay home" by Taiwan's Mongolian and Tibet affairs minister. (Taiwan having a Tibet affairs minister is related to the complex pre-1949 history of China and Taiwan; the Mongolian part relates to an archaic Republic of China claim on all of Mongolia that the Taiwanese have yet to shed.)

Indeed it seems that Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou (at left; 馬英九) is like our Roh Moohyun (노무현/盧武鉉), in some ways at least. The more I read and hear about Taiwan's social, historical, political, and economic development, the more parallels I see between South Korea and China's Renegade Province™. Indeed, South Korea has been giving the Dalai Lama the same cold shoulder for quite some time now and for quite some time now, and it's not just Roh Moohyun.

The big difference between Ma and Roh, however, is that Ma is the head of the Kuomintang (KMT, the "Nationalists") which historically has been closer in ideology to South Korea's conservatives. But the KMT and allied Pan-Blue (泛藍聯盟) position has morphed from KMT takeover of all of China to one merely of one-China preservationism — partly in response to Taiwanese efforts on the other end of the political spectrum to assert Taiwan's status as a separate national entity on the world stage.

Both Seoul and Taipei cower at the possibility of upsetting Beijing (and in Seoul's case under Roh, Pyongyang as well), and this just gives Beijing more power. This ticks off "C," a Taiwanese grad student I know here in Hawaii who formerly worked in Pan-Green (泛綠聯盟), the independence-minded political coalition that was recently voted out of power.

What would Beijing do if Seoul or Taipei allowed the Dalai Lama to visit? Would they invade? Would they cut off economic ties, which is largely Taiwanese and South Korean companies dumping investment dollars into China while buying up goods from Chinese companies? Would the instigate a series of policies that give their ally North Korea free reign to do whatever the hell it wants even when it runs counter to international acceptability? Too late, they already do that.

Would Beijing instruct their citizens living in South Korea to run amok and attack people who hold political views that offend Beijing? Oh, too late there, too (right).

Really, then. What do Taipei and Seoul have to fear but fear itself? Let's pull that Band-Aid off, people!

[above: The Dalai Lama has been trying for years to visit South Korea. Aides say he is dying to visit Myŏngdong, where he hopes to pick up a new pair of glasses and get himself and his buddies facials at Ippuni Miso Day Spa.]

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