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“More friends than enemies”

Given the spree of Taiwan-related content up of late (like this awkward moment over dinner), I asked my Taiwanese friend Xu Zhide (徐至德) the other day if he’d be so kind as to write a guest post for Six. He was.

Zhide is back East for the summer, on break from his studies in London, where he’s writing his graduate thesis on relations between constituent parts of the UK and greater China (full title: ‘Too Many to Tango or Rebirth of Phoenix? Quasi-Asymmetric Federalism in the UK and Greater China’).

If a comparison to the UK-Scotland-Wales-Ireland mess situation seems a roundabout way to discuss mainland China-Taiwan-HK-etc., that’s because it has to be that way: Zhide is also an exchange student at Beida, and a direct approach simply isn’t on. But enough ado, here’s his post (I’ve edited his English for accuracy, being careful not to impact on meaning.)

If the question of whether ‘Taiwan is part of China’ is raised in mainland China, no matter if by a 3 or a 90 year old, the answer never differs, as l observed several years ago when l landed here for the first time.

Actually, even now, at least constitutionally, the ROC (Taiwan) claims her sovereignty over ‘whole China’, which is like saying ‘mainland China is part of China’. So a Taiwanese shouldn’t be so suprised that their counterparts in mainland China declare Taiwan to be part of (’whole’) China as well.

Having said that, these kind of symbolic and self-assertive declarations are, of course, treated more seriously in the latter context, while obviously more lukewarmly in the former context, especially when Taiwanese consider themselves so unique/superior from/than ‘mainlanders’ (or ‘Chinese’) right now.

And this difference makes any conversation on their ’special relationships’ run less smoothly most of the time, while most Taiwanese, in their daily lives, are also not so aware that the ‘magic power’ to prevent another round of civil war would simply depend on such a constitutional association.

So, some kind of ‘无所谓’ ['I really don't care'] might be a good attitude to foster new relations between both sides in the beginning, as might also be the case in Europe, especially after 90’s.

And that is exactly what l found there recently, too.

Although my lovely classmates in Europe would argue seriously over the root of the current financial crisis, and show their preference of approach towards the remedy of it based on their ethnic backgrounds as differentiated by Anglo-Saxon or Latin, the chance of such a ‘currency war’ turning out to be the end of the Euro Zone, or even EU, is still too distant to tell.

After all, economically, they are so interrelated; emotionally, they are more friends than enemies. And a friend in need is a friend indeed.

Mainland Chinese are also eager to show similar [friendly] feelings towards residents in Taiwan recently, through ECFA and many other efforts.

And although Taiwanese continue to consider their relationship with ‘Chinese’ as more like partners in business, the strategic switch from ‘attacking’ to ‘buying’ Taiwanese in the CCP’s thinking is promising.

One ‘official’ think-tank member even speaks for his ‘boss’ and many others in saying that “the economy coming before politics is precisely politics in its cleverest form”.

It seems that some ‘normative power’ of the EU penetrates and echoes well even in the CCP’s mindset.

So l am pretty sure that our European friends like Alec would also welcome the recent trends happening across the Taiwan Straits. [Ed: sure!]

And although some kind of caution about ‘foreign nations intervening in affairs which are not their own’ is represented in Alec, he could still be proud that efforts at dialogue between cultures, or even civilizations, are also embodied in him: a Chinese-friendly European youth. [Ed: *blush*]