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Hillary Drops the Big One on China

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Back in March, I presciently speculated about (and J. Michael Cole pined for) a Taiwanese political uprising that would combine domestic mass resistance to the KMT’s mainland-friendly policies with US institutional support a la Maidan and whip up a political froth that might result in the sidelining of the KMT, the acquisition of political momentum and even political power by a pro-US/pro-independence led by the KMT’s independence-friendly and mainland-averse rival, the Democratic People’s Party, and a gigantic black eye for the People’s Republic of China.

The first salvo occurred a couple days later, with the occupation of the ROC parliament by student demonstrators, the Sunflower Movement, opposed to a cross-strait trade and service pact negotiated between the government and the PRC.  At that time, the US government stayed on the sidelines and the semi-official US presence in Taiwan, the American Institute in Taiwan, reviled by many as an enabler of KMT-PRC rapprochement don’t rock the boatism, actually criticized the occupation.

Now it looks like Hillary Clinton has put Taiwan in play as a geopolitical counter in her ongoing confrontation with the People’s Republic of China, which characterized her term as Secretary of State and looks to define, for better or worse, her expected presidency.  I don’t believe that Secretary Clinton is just talking up the benefits of the Trans Pacific Partnership and Taiwan’s membership in a U.S.-led trade bloc.  She’s referring specifically to the advisability of putting a brake on development of cross-strait integration.

Expect the DPP and the Sunflower Movement to take Clinton’s statements as offering the prospect of US support, as well as encouragement to resist the KMT government’s cross-strait policies and challenge its legitimacy and effectiveness in a multitude of venues beyond the conventional electoral and parliamentary fora (where the DPP is currently trapped in impotent minority status thanks to the black magic of the democratic process).  Since the current government is pretty unpopular, there is ample mischief that can be achieved in the name of “national emergency”.  Ma Ying-jyeou = Yanukovich, PRC = Russia, KMT = Party of Regions etc.

And since the opposition to the KMT is firmly rooted in the discourse of Taiwan independence, there’s even a World War III vibe over Taiwan that was only fitfully present in the whole US + Maidan v. Russia confrontation.

I guess Clinton is doing Taiwan the favor of warning it to conduct its pro-US political ruckus sooner than later so that, unlike Ukraine, it doesn’t find itself torn in two by the struggle.

Peter Lee wrote a ground-breaking essay on the exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima in the March issue of CounterPunch magazine. He edits China Matters.

Good luck with that!  I predict interesting times.

Peter Lee edits China Matters and writes about Asia for CounterPunch.  

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