If you haven’t noticed, there are some very interesting chess moves occurring in Asia right now. China and Taiwan have been at odds since the Nationalists fled to the island in 1949, and there’s been strong talk of military action in recent months. China continues to regard Taiwan as a secessionist province. It wasn’t that long ago when China put on a big naval war games show in the Taiwan Strait that brought rebukes and threats from several nations, most notably the United States.
China’s leadership and Taiwan’s president (Chen Shui-bian) have basically ignored each other and have made (thankfully) empty threats for the past five years or so. But China made a very shrewd move – right out of Karl Rove’s handbook, if you will. China’s leadership invited the top opponent (Lien Chan) of Chen’s to visit the mainland. You may have seen the large photos depicting Lien shaking hands with the Chinese leadership. Unless you were really paying attention, you probably thought Taiwan’s and China’s leaders were finally trying to work it out. You were wrong. And that’s the whole point behind China’s strategy.
Meanwhile, back in Taiwan, the current president, Chen, who has twice defeated Lien in the polls, is saying, hey wait a minute, why is the guy I’ve beaten twice getting all this world leader, global attention? What about me? And that’s the whole point behind China’s strategy. China has managed to minimize Chen on the world stage. And now Chen is throwing out peace proposals to ease the tension, while the Chinese chuckle behind the scenes and ask yet another opposition leader (James Soong) to visit the mainland.
While there’s been a lot of talk about Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea, China has quietly built a larger world stage. I don’t know if it’s China’s century, as some are proclaiming, but I do know that they consider Taiwan as a temperamental, runaway child that will one day come home, whether it likes it or not. From China’s perspective, 56 years is like 56 days.