China and Taiwan End Their War after 60 Years
The leaders of China’s Communist Party and of Taiwan’s opposition Nationalist Party, the two sides that fought China’s civil war, formally ended six decades of hostility on Friday with a nationally televised handshake and pledged to work together to undermine Taiwan’s independence movement.
During an elaborate ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, broadcast in China and Taiwan, Hu Jintao, the Chinese Communist leader, hailed a weeklong visit to the mainland from Taiwan by Lien Chan, the Nationalist leader, as a historic reconciliation. The Nationalists, who fled to the island in 1949 after losing the civil war, ruled Taiwan until 2000 and still control its legislature.
The meeting is the first between the leaders of the two parties in 60 years; the last was in the wartime redoubt of Chongqing, when Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong made a final, failed bid to reach a cease-fire.
Both sides pointedly used the trip to try to isolate Taiwan’s president, Chen Shui-bian, who has twice won election on a platform leaning toward independence. He now faces an unusual alliance between the opposition party and China’s Communist leadership, which the Taiwan government still calls the enemy.
A stunning development if it holds. I’m rather skeptical, though. The underlying issues have not been resolved here. China is still an authoritarian state under a Communist Party, although one that has liberalized sectors of the economy. Taiwan is an Asian Tiger, far ahead of the Mainland economically and technologically. Of late, it has also been democratic.
The “One China” policy is simply a fiction, although a useful one. They are two countries, pure and simple. I can’t see how a handshake and the agreement of the minority party changes that.