Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Is China going to start something anytime soon?

I think China is hoping to keep a lid on things until 2008. In April 2008, Taiwan will elect a new president, and China is hoping that Taiwan will elect someone less confrontational. China does not want anyone rocking the boat until after the Summer Olympics in 2008.

Chen Shui Bian, the current president of Taiwan, knows that China is desperately hoping to maintain the status quo, so President Chen has been subtly and not so subtly provoking China by disbanding the "Reunification Council" and talking about Taiwan being a nation that governs itself. Chen thinks now is the time to carve out as much space for itself internationally because China is unwilling to do anything rash that might jeopardize their chance to hold the olympics.

So the wild card is Chen. Will he push China too far? Is China willing to put up with just about anything, hoping that Chen will be gone in 2008. Will something unforseen occur (spy scandal, plane wreck, natural disaster) that could completely overturn all assumptions up to now? Unknowable.

I would say that after 2008, the Chinese government will think that it has "arrived" as a superpower, and that it will feel much more unconstrained to act. I would say Winter 2008-2009 will be very dangerous for Taiwan.

That is, unless China collapses on its own accord, which is entirely possible, given their precarious financial situation, and massive unemployment. We will just have to wait and see