mandag 4. april 2022

‘Taiwan is not Ukraine’ – but Beijing’s attempt to explain the difference ignores key questions

On the face of it, China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have a lot in common. Both are ageing all-powerful national leaders, both are survivors of the 20th century’s communist-led revolutions, and both are looking to create legacy projects worthy of their grand ambitions.  That means righting wrongs imposed by the past victories of Western intruders and restoring what was lost to the mistakes and misfortunes of predecessors. Both men are now determined to make right what they see as the wrongs of history and restore the influence that their predecessors lacked the will to preserve.

Analysts have been quick to see the parallels between Putin’s war to “de-militarise” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine and Xi’s determination to tidy up the last remnant of China’s civil war that brought his Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to power in 1949. Instead of surrendering, its adversary retreated to the island province of Taiwan where the Kuomintang (KMT) or Nationalist Party and its army, then led by Chiang Kai-shek, have remained ever since.

The initial plan was to regroup and rebuild his defeated forces and recapture the mainland. It never happened. Instead, they brought with them the bad habits that underlay their defeat on the mainland, and it was not uncommon to hear Taiwanese with memories of those days recall that even the World War II Japanese occupiers were better rulers than their KMT successors.