In Response to: Keep Taiwan separate

In response to Ronald Chen ’90’s April 22 letter in which he defends “the historic and political facts of China and Taiwan’s long separation,” I would like to remind Mr. Chen of the difference between what constitutes a state and what constitutes a region.  

Regardless of which side one supports, there are only two entities that claim a status of a state: the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China. Note that both of them claim to be “China.” The People’s Republic of China claims Taiwan as its province; the Republic of China, at least in theory, still claims all the provinces of the PRC. In reality, the ROC only administers two provinces: Fujian (albeit just two islands) and the Province of Taiwan. There is no government in the entire world that recognizes an independent state of “Taiwan.” Even the ROC government considers it a province of China (that being the Republic of China).

Mr. Chen is making the same mistake that many others are making in this dispute: He is equating China with the People’s Republic of China. Nevertheless, one needs to be aware that China is more than a state; it is a historical and cultural region that dates back for thousands of years and is unified by common traditions, language, and history. To deny that Taiwan is part of this region only because one disagrees with the current ruling class in Beijing is to ignore the fact that the present situation is but a blink in the history of a nation that has had many different rulers and many internal divisions through the centuries.

My question for Mr. Chen is: Regardless of whether Taiwan should be part of the PRC or not, can we at least recognize it as part of China?

George Costow ’04