Let us cut through all the hocus pocus about the “One-China Policy” and how it should be interpreted, about “historical claims,” and about “avoiding instability in the region.”
First, there can be no stability in a region in which the dominant player is an aggressive totalitarian slave state with the biggest military in the world. A house presided over by an oppressive and abusive man who browbeats his wife over her every move and “mistake,” and who frightens and threatens the children out of any inclination to think and choose for themselves, can never be considered stable. Petrified, yes. Static, yes. Frozen, yes. But never stable. Real stability, in human matters, necessarily implies a certain emotional ease, a fluidity in decision-making, a lack of immediate fear, and a general absence of the kind of underlying tension that prevents individual growth and freedom of action. In East Asia today, fear and accommodation, mitigated by armed vigilance, are the only conditions preventing a devolution into chaos. A region in which the Chinese Communist Party has assumed the role, and has been allowed to develop the power, of an oppressive father over everyone’s daily life is by definition unstable.
Second, Taiwan has a legitimate claim to independence from China for the simple reason that no totalitarian regime has any moral claim to the legitimate governance of anything. Every single Chinese citizen, for that matter, has the right to assert his independence from the Chinese Communist Party, which is not, and never has been, a just and respectable governing regime. Likewise, then, with every Taiwanese citizen, and every citizen of every other location on Earth. The Chinese government, put plainly, has no reasonable or honorable claim to authority over anyone.
Playing tiddlywinks games of “nuanced policy” and “deliberate ambiguity” with such thugs — with millions of human lives hanging on your pretense of cleverness — is like verbally consenting to allow a murderer to kill you and your family at his pleasure, and then whispering to your neighbor, “But I had my fingers crossed when I said it.”
How about just not saying it?
As a side note, and as I have mentioned elsewhere, here at the Korean university where I work, I have frequently taught visiting Chinese students, both in undergraduate and graduate contexts. Most of them were good students, and I developed close personal relationships with a few of them. In every case, I experienced real wistfulness when I met them for the final time before their trips home. Though they rarely seem to grasp this (Chinese propaganda is of the highest quality), these young people deserve a better fate, a better future, a better picture of what life — their life — can be.
We all do, frankly.