People of China’s Taiwan Province Have Endured Many Years of Struggle Against Western Colonialism and Japanese Militarism.
Written by: Ned K. on 12 August 2022
The growing rivalry between USA and China has thrown the spotlight on the island of Taiwan in recent weeks. The Australian Government and the "Opposition" led by Peter Dutton have been competing to show who has the greater allegiance to the USA in this big power rivalry.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong initially leads the charge by "pointing the finger" at China's reaction to Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. This is soon followed by Wong and Acting Prime Minister calling for de-escalation between China and the USA over Taiwan.
Peter Dutton tries to outdo Penny Wong by calling Taiwan an "independent country" and then a few days later having to back track on that as his master the USA does not officially recognize Taiwan as an independent country and neither did his own Party when in government in Australia!
The Chinese Ambassador to Australia then comes out at the National Press Club and says China will take back the province of Taiwan by any means necessary but that China wants to "reset" the relationship between China and Australia.
Relationship between People of Mainland China and Island of Taiwan Goes Back A Long Way
Meanwhile the people of Taiwan continue their daily lives as do the people on mainland China. There is a strong historical link between the two.
Both have been subjected to exploitation of western colonial/imperial powers over hundreds of years.
Taiwan's Indigenous peoples have lived in Taiwan for the last 15,000 years. They are Malayo Polynesian with a strong migratory history extending from Madagascar to Easter Island to New Zealand in the south Pacific. Their languages belong to the Austronesian linguistic family.
There are 14 separate Indigenous groups in Taiwan and in 2010 the total population of all 14 groups was estimated to be about 512,700 people, approximately 2% of the population of Taiwan. They lived as hunter gatherers and self-sufficient farmers. Three indigenous groups, Amis, Paiwan and Atayal account for 70% of the total indigenous population of the island.
In 1542 the Portuguese colonialists "discovered" the island and called it Ilha Formosa which means "Beautiful Island"
However, it was the Dutch colonialists through the Dutch East India Company in 1624 that changed the then Formosa for ever. The Dutch set up a base in the southeast of the island and built a trading port. They tried to force the Indigenous people to work for them on large cash crops for sale and exports but the Indigenous people resisted this.
So the colonial Dutch rulers offered tax breaks and free land (on Indigenous land!) to Chinese from Fujian province initially from the mainland.
The Dutch colonialists saw an opportunity for cheap labour as thousands of Chinese wanted to flee from the invading Manchu armies from the north.
The Dutch military pledged protection of the Chinese from assaults by the indigenous people on the island. (See: How Taiwan Became Chinese by Tonio Andrada, 2007).
So, Taiwan effectively became a Chinese settlement under Dutch rule. In a short space of time thousands came from the mainland to the island looking for a better life due to the invasion of China at the time by the Manchus.
The Dutch colonialists got their pound of flesh from the Chinese farmers who settled in Taiwan through imposition of taxes, tolls and licenses.
This exploitation of the Chinese by the Dutch led to a Chinese merchant Prince Zheng Chenggong's army sweeping the Dutch off the island in 1642.
In 1683 the Qing empire of mainland China tool control of Taiwan.
In 1885 Taiwan was declared a province of the Qing dynasty of China but in 1895 the island became subjected to aggression from Japanese imperialism. Under the Treaty of Shimonoseki, the Qing dynasty ceded Taiwan to Japan with Japan occupying Taiwan until 1943.
In 1943 under the Cairo Declaration between the KMT-led Republic of China (ROC) government on mainland China, the USA and UK, Taiwan came under the rule of the ROC.
In 1945 the ROC became a founding member of the United Nations and when the Chinese Communist-led Peoples Liberation Army defeated the KMT in 1949, the KMT under Chiang Kai-shek fled under US protection.
In 1971 the ROC withdrew from the United Nations and due to the overwhelming power of the People's Republic of China, the One China Policy of both the USA and Australia emerged. In 1979 diplomatic ties between the ROC and the USA ceased.
Since the 1970s the working people of Taiwan including the Indigenous peoples have lived honest, hard-working lives and they are the people who actually built through their mental and physical labour the manufacturing and telecommunications industries that modernised the economy on their island home.
However, their historical ties with mainland China remain strong as are their economic ties.
In 2010 41.8 % of Taiwan's exports went to mainland China. 15% of Taiwan's imports come from mainland China.
US Imperialism Main Danger of People of Taiwan
Since the 1620s western powers and Japanese militarism have exploited both the Indigenous people of Taiwan and the Chinese people of Taiwan who comprise 98% of the population.
In one way, the Chinese Taiwanese and the non-Indigenous people of Australia have something in common. Both are settler societies but also both have been menaced by western imperial powers over the last few hundred years. Both the Taiwanese people and Australian people face the same principle imperialist aggressor, the USA, at the moment.
Both Australian and Taiwanese people have a common interest in seeing a withdrawal of US military forces from Australia and the western Pacific region which includes the island of Taiwan.
Withdrawal of US forces from the western Pacific area is the greatest hope of a peaceful reunification of the province of Taiwan with the People's Republic of China and in the best interests of people in Australia.
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