Taiwan independence is opposed by both the People’s Republic of China which threatens military invasion and the Republic of China in-exile which forced the Chinese language on Taiwan after World War II. The United States installed Kuomintang dictator Chiang Kai-shek’s regime on the Japanese territory then called Formosa to process surrendering soldiers.
Today, Formosa or Taiwan, the Asian island of 23.5 million residents, is either the Republic of China or Chinese Taipei depending on which Chinese side has your ear. The United States is to blame for the confusion having imposed a seven decade “strategic ambiguity” on the island’s sovereignty leaving everyone confused.
The largest group of people in the world excluded from the United Nations, the World Health Organization and Interpol, the islanders struggle with a Cold War status quo that becomes more dangerously irrelevant daily. The United States also opposes independence for the people of Taiwan keeping them trapped in “political purgatory” and unsure of their future.
The two Chinese governments both pay lip service to a “one China” philosophy that leaves little room for Taiwan. While the PRC threatens military invasion it continues to push a soft power takeover. The recent referendum on what to name the island Olympic team had Taiwan losing to Chinese Taipei by ten percent of the vote. The 2020 elections in Taiwan may give the PRC the victory they seek.
The matter has become so desperate that Mike Kuo, the president of Formosa Association for Public Affairs, has flip-flopped and abandoned FAPA’s mission of independence and instead seeks recognition of the exiled ROC by the United States. If Kuo gets his way, the independence movement will have a much greater difficulty ridding the island of its ROC masters.
Scholars, diplomats, and others fail to recognize that the entrenched ROC government will not go quietly into the night. After the United States installed the ROC as a caretaker government at the end of World War II, and then looked the other away, the 228 Massacre and White Terror period happened. Acquiescence by America to the bloodshed allowed the ROC to gain a foothold on power that makes it now hard to dislodge.
The unsettled status of Taiwan creates instability in Asia and allows for the competing Chinese claims to the island. After four centuries of colonial rule, it is time for Formosa to awaken. If the Taiwanese independence movement does not soon do something, the island future will be again be decided by foreign powers.
For decades the strategic ambiguity protected Taiwan from invasion. Now the strategic ambiguity leaves Taiwan at risk. The FAPA turn-around on recognition of the ROC is a clear signal that it is time for independence activists to act or Formosa will become a footnote to history.