Suppose the Confederacy Had Fled to Cuba
I know that’s a stretch of the imagination, but it’s very close to the facts of the China-Taiwan crisis.
At the conclusion of World War Two, the future of China was essentially up for grabs. An ally of the U.S. against Japan, their war began five years before ours, in 1937 and they paid the price with 14 million dead.
A momentary aside: I had a dear friend and mentor who flew unarmed DC3 cargo planes over the Himalayas in the U.S. Air Force and completed hundreds of missions, supplying a battered and nearly defeated Chinese military. Never even scratched under extremely dangerous circumstances, Dave returned to run his family plant nursery near Chicago. Riding his motorcycle across the property one evening at sunset, the sun blinded him to a length of irrigation pipe hanging off the back of a truck and it caught him full in the face. He died instantly. Fate, if fate exists, sometimes plays games with the best of our best.
Generalissimo Chiang Kai-sheck was our guy in China at the time, a former warlord in a nation run by warlords. Long story short, Chiang was a Chinese Nationalist politician, revolutionary and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975, first in mainland China until 1949 and then in Taiwan until his death.
The key phrase there is ‘Republic of China’ and therein lies both the rub and the solution to the rub.
The Revolutionary Communist
Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the founding father of the People's Republic of China (PRC), which he ruled as the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976.
The key phrase there is ‘People’s Republic of China and to the great misfortune of the citizens of this enormous country, who claims to represent China has been in dispute for decades.
Things got fuzzy after World War Two
And of course fuzziness is never good for politics.
The United Nations was founded in 1945 and Chiang Kai-sheck won Round One of the ‘who represents China’ fight, establishing the Republic of China as a founding member of the U.N.
But Mao was a no-quit guy and in the struggle for the heart and mind of China, he won Round Two, overcoming Chiang’s military in 1949 and forcing the Generalissimo and his followers to the relative safety of the island of Taiwan. So the U.N., not knowing what else to do with a founding member in exile and mainland China in the hands of another government, recognized both Chinas.
Anyone would know that wasn’t going to work out in the long run. And it didn’t.
Chiang-Kai-sheck died in 1975 and Chairman Mao in 1976
But the game was already over in 1971
The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 was passed in response to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1668 that required any change in China's representation in the UN be determined by a two-thirds vote referring to Article 18 of the UN Charter. The resolution, passed on 25 October 1971, recognized the People's Republic of China (PRC) as "the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations" and removed the collective representatives of Chiang Kai-shek of the Republic of China (ROC) from the United Nations.
Who says the United Nations is toothless? It just isn’t any good at preventing wars—but then who is?
The holdouts on Taiwan had a lot going for them on paper, but they essentially didn’t own anything but the paper.
Now would be a good time to wind things down
Dreams are great, but even the greatest dreams get a bit worn at the seams after 75 years. Taiwan is not China and will never be. The citizens of Taiwan feel far more Taiwanese than Chinese. In the meantime, the West (particularly the U.S.) supports that insupportable dream with armaments and harsh language while, at the same time, trying to come to terms with China’s current leadership.
No one is winning this charade and the stakes are becoming dangerous.
Back to the premise of the title
Jefferson Davis was the first and only President of the Confederate States of America. That’s what they called themselves. Suppose instead of surrendering to the North, Davis and his followers had decamped to Cuba. Suppose still further that they claimed to be the true government of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
True enough, this supposition would have to allow for slavery to exist on Cuba, along with growing cotton and no interference from Fidel Castro.
But my father always said “when you go to the well, drink deeply” and we are drinking deeply of this metaphor in order to prove a point.
We would be properly pissed. We would likely be rattling sabers as is China and tired of having that particular stick in our eye. Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia are enough of a problem already, without anything to make them a further irritant.
So, the defeated Confederacy makes no such claims
And that’s my solution.
Stop calling yourself the Republic of China, rename the new nation and apply for membership in the United Nations as The Republic of Taiwan.
I’ll bet the whole world would breathe a sigh of relief and come to the Birthday Party.
Image Credit: Eurasian Research Institute