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Post Taiwan and the Spratlys: Spark for the Next War?
Created by John Eipper on 10/21/21 4:17 AM

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Taiwan and the Spratlys: Spark for the Next War? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 10/21/21 4:17 am)

If the Empire decides to wage a new war, this time it will be a real one, and one that shall be carried out to win no matter what.

The reason for such a possible war is Taiwan, considered by Communist China to be a breakaway province to be reunited to the motherland, possibly by 2035 or earlier.

But is Taiwan really part of Mainland China?

The first inhabitants of Taiwan were Austronesians, quite different from the Chinese. The first immigrants from China arrived in the 13th century, and then the island was dominated by the Portuguese in the Center South (Ilha Formosa 1544), and by the Spaniards in the North, then the Dutch in 1624, who called the island Taiwan. Only in 1683, the Ming Empire conquered the island, resulting in great immigration.  Finally, the island became Japanese in 1895. As part of the Japanese Empire, the people of Taiwan had great prosperity and they were very loyal and good combatants for Japan. The great "Japanese" hero Teruo Nakamura (Attun Palalin), who volunteered for the Japanese Army in 1943, in reality was an Austronesian and the last soldier to surrender on 18 December 1974. The ethnic Japanese Hiro Onoda had surrendered a few months earlier.

The present ethnic Austronesian population is only 2%, even if it is believed that the original genes are present in 80% of the population. Who said that only the natives of North America and Caribbean had been wiped out by immigration? Oh, do not forget the Neanderthals, Desinovans, etc.

The present population of Taiwan is about 24 million on a territory of only 36.197 square KM, giving it a high density of 646 persons per square KM.

The Republic of China/Taiwan besides the main island, 180 KM from the continent, has several other small islands--Matzu, Quemoy, Pescadores in front of the coasts of Fujian and southeastward Lanyu.  It additionally contests with Japan the Eastern island of Senkaku. Quemoy was invaded by Red China in 1949 but its forces were pushed back into the sea. In 1954/55 Taiwan lost the Yigianshan and Dachen islands in front of Zhejiang.

At present in the South China Sea, we have the Parcel group of islands which are claimed by Vietnam and the People's Republic of China, which seems to have pushed away Vietnam. The group of more than 100 islands of the Spratlys is claimed by the PRC, which has built at least seven artificial islands with military installations and practically controls most of the islets, but there is one called Itu Aba controlled by Taiwan with a Coast Guard installation. The other countries claiming part or all of the Spratlys are the Philippines in the East, Vietnam in the West, and Malaysia in the South, also Brunei claims a small piece too. The chances to have peace there are rather slim.

The geopolitical situation is explosive,  Remember a few months ago a flight carrying US Ambassador to the UN, Kelly Kraft, had to turn back from a planned visit to Taipei, as China advised that such a visit would be considered a casus belli.  It is also said that Japan is forgetting its pacifist posture and is rearming and trying to extend its influence to Taiwan.

For sure the US regrets now the three great concessions made to China in the 1980s:

1) Reductions of customs on imports from China, lower than on imports from Japan and Taiwan. 2) Permission to transfer technology to China, more than to Japan and Taiwan.  3) Installation of an office of the World Bank for consultancies on the economic reforms of China.

I hope that the Empire will not rely too much on India as a counterweight to China. The present government of Narendra Modi is pushing the 1.4 billion inhabitants of India toward Hindutva, Hindu values as the base for social order. 

By doing so, he is antagonizing the 200 million Muslims, the 27 million Christians, and the 22 million Sikhs. Against this is Pakistan, already in a quasi-war over Kashmir, and Bangladesh where 87% of Muslims are at odds with 8% Hindus with reciprocal riots and assassinations. The peace in the Indian Subcontinent is hardly guaranteed to last.

JE comments:  The Spratlys are tiny dots, visible on the map only when marked by a circle.  Add the islands together, and you get but 490 acres of actual land.  Is there any piece of real estate so contested?  Six nations claim at least one island.  If war does erupt here, never will so much be sacrificed for so little. 

It's been a long time since we've heard from Bienvenido Macario, who has written on the Spratlys from the Philippines perspective.  Bienvenido, we miss you:  what is Duterte saying about the Spratlys?

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