Will there be a 'Chinese Commonwealth' system ? The China Post Columnist

Joe Hung

TAIPEI (THE CHINA POST/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Professor Lin Chong-pin, who once served as President Chen Shui-bian's deputy defence minister, said in an exclusive interview with the Chinese Communist Party organ Global Times last Tuesday that the possibility of Taiwan's unification with China does "absolutely" exist.

He attributed the rise of public opinion in China for Chinese reunification by force to the increasingly hard pressure brought by hardcore Taiwanese independence supporters of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to bear on President Tsai Ing-wen, whom they regard not as "one of us."

As a result, Dr Lin, a one-time assistant to former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick, concluded that the peaceful unification of both sides of the Taiwan Strait will come thanks to President Tsai losing popular support and because the US will be compelled to decline assistance to Taiwan in the event of an attack.

He also pointed out that most of the middle-of-the road types are so dissatisfied with President Tsai's DPP government as to believe "it may be better to be unified with China," though they are not openly advocating it.

These people voted in Tsai in January last year, convinced that it would be better to have the then opposition party come back to power. They did so in 2008 to dump President Chen's DPP.

According to a recent Duke University poll, 70 to 80 per cent of these young "born independentistas" support independence - on the condition that the US comes to their homeland's rescue. But if no American help comes, support drops to a mere 20 per cent.

Lin also predicted that the People's Republic of China could easily achieve Chinese reunification "bloodlessly" in a matter of hours through a "war of acupuncture," in which the People's Liberation Army does not have to wash Taiwan with blood.

All it has to do is to fight a website war, electronics war as well as electromagnetic pulse war to destroy Taiwan's wartime system of command. This, however, would rely on a secret collusion from within Taiwan. It would take 48 or 72 hours to make Taiwan defenceless, he said.

But Lin predicted that Beijing won't resort to war to accomplish reunification.

The reason is that the "century of China" would last only 100 years, if the reunification is accomplished by force, but will continue for 200 to 300 years if done through peaceful means.

Oswald Spengler prophesised in his two-volume "The Decline of the West" published in 1898, that the 21st century belongs to China.

Nobody thinks Chinese unification will come in 2020, as is now being bandied about among political commentators. But come it will sooner or later, as Professor Lin is so sure, much like the British Empire evolved into the Commonwealth.

The odds against China's peaceful unification are formidable. But the days of empire are long over. Time will come when the People's Republic, with political reform bound to follow Beijing's plodding toward a free market economy, becomes so democratised as to hope to create a Chinese Commonwealth.

Westminster's policy of allowing considerable self-government in its colonies led to the existence by the 19th century of several dependent states, which were populated to a significant degree by Europeans accustomed to parliamentary rule and which possessed large degrees of sovereignty.

Dominion status was first given to Canada in 1897 and later to Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Ireland and Newfoundland.

A pronouncement by the Imperial Conference of 1926 described Great Britain and the dominions as "autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations."

Internationally, the dominions were recognised as separate states, entitled to have separate representation in the League of Nations and other world organisations, to appoint their own ambassadors, and to conclude their own treaties.

At the same time, the dominions were not considered to stand in the same relation to the United Kingdom or among themselves as foreign countries. After 1947 the phrase "members of the Commonwealth" came into use.

As it now stands, the Commonwealth has its members most of the old dominions as well as other countries that were British colonies or territories. Some of them, like India, are republics with presidents as their heads of state.

If, for instance, the example of Canada is followed, Taiwan may be united peacefully with China as a dominion first and then may develop into a full-fledged member of a "Chinese Commonwealth," which Beijing may have to choose to create to complete the Chinese unification and get rid of the troubles with the special administrative region of Hong Kong as well as Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Tibet. They may also be made dominions first and then join this new "Commonwealth," though.