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Explaning Taiwan & China’s Political Situation

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I have found myself having to try and explain the relationship that Taiwan and China share, and usually to other Americans. Of course I am oversimplifying the issue, but the scenario I have come up with is this:

  1. Imagine that the Confederacy (CSA) had won the American Civil War.
  2. Now imagine that the government of the United States of America had fled to Cuba and set up shop there (kicking out most of the native Cubans), with the new capital being in Havana.
  3. Lastly, imagine in this crazy situation that both governments to this day still exist, but have  continued strains on their relationships.

Does this make sense yet? Let’s do some substitutions so it does…

  • The Confederacy in this case would be akin to the Communist government of the People’s Republic of China.
  • Likewise, the USA government would be Taiwan, who fled their with a ragtag collection of military expats, businessmen, and intellectuals.
  • Lastly, the Cuban natives who were largely displaced would be the various indigenous tribes that inhabited Taiwan before the “mainlanders” showed up.

So now this makes a lot more sense right? Of course, I realize that this is not a 100% correct analogy, but it holds up well for ‘elevator speech’ and ‘raging bar conversation’, and now ‘totally random web search’ material. Your mileage may vary, of course.

4 Responses to 'Explaning Taiwan & China’s Political Situation'

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  1. Close, but there were several million people on Taiwan, including Han settlers, and the KMT took over Taiwan in 1945.

    It would be as if there were a civil war in the UK, and the queen retreated to the US and claimed that the US was a part of Britain, because parts of the US once were part of Britain and many US citizens originate from there.

    The current situation is more like the Ukraine, where the pro-Russian parties conspire to snuff out its independence and return it to Russian rule.

    Michael Turton

    29 Jan 09 at 7:32 am

  2. Hmm, I didn’t consider how the similarities were between the Ukraine and Russia, especially with the recent issue with the gas pipeline supply. I’ll keep that in mind if i’m in a conversation with Russian speakers. I forgot to mention that my target audience probably know little about the situation in the Ukraine, but are far more knowledgeable of events in the American civil war than I am.

    Getting asked “So I take it Chairman Mao’s a lot like Stonewall Jackson then?” happened at least twice 🙂


    29 Jan 09 at 9:29 am

  3. I think you need to revise your “analogy” based on the latest legal research. A court case in Washington DC is arguing that native Taiwanese people are entitled to hold US passports.

    Oral arguments in the US Court of Appeals were held on Feb. 5, 2009 in Washington D.C.
    The case is Roger Lin et. al. v. United States of America

    – – – – LINKS – – – –

    Packed courtroom greets judges in Taiwan treaty lawsuit


    – – – –

    Appeals Court Examining Taiwan, U.S. Relationship

    Washington Legal Times BLOG —


    – – – –

    Press Conference
    Feb. 5, 2009
    National Press Club, Washington D.C.


    – – – –

    Taiwanese US National Passport Lawsuit Press Conference

    – – – –

    Future of Taiwan at stake in lawsuit over WWII peace treaty with Japan


    – – – –

    Patricia Su

    8 Feb 09 at 9:09 am

  4. There’s a lot of the subtleties and nuances to the complicated relationship between the PRC, ROC, USA, and UN that I’m not aware of. I can definitely admit to that. There is a HELL of a lot that I don’t know, and all parties can’t even fully agree to the scale and scope of things.

    But for the purposes of explaining the situation in a “Geopolitics in an elevator speech” sort of manner to the target audience I usually encounter, the comparisons between the USA and CSA usually suffice. I still don’t know why I am a magnet for these sort of discussions among my friends.


    19 Feb 09 at 9:14 am

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