A great article on Taiwan from commentator Tom Plate that generally recognizes how great Taiwan is, and that the ultimate problem is Beijing. But still too Chen-focused……

However, multiparty systems can produce unpredictable and even unwanted results. In control of the island’s presidency is Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party. Formed during the extraordinary and historic political ferment of the late ’80s, the DPP is the party that lionized the independence streak of many of the island’s inhabitants and by 2000 got its man, Chen Shui-bian, elected president.


Whether the United States should or would do so depends on a number of factors. One is the cause of the clash. Washington does not formally recognized Taiwan as an official government, accepting a technical one-China policy, and from time to time asks Chen to pipe the anti-Beijing rhetoric down. Getting involved in a military mess with the mainland should Beijing lose its cool with Chen is not exactly an enticing thought.


Americans characteristically root for the little guy — the David over the Goliath — but not if the little guy gets the reputation for being nothing but a ton of trouble. And so Chen’s continued spats with the mainland only serve to dominate the news about Taiwan, with the result that the larger, important story gets lost in the noise. This is really too bad. It’s hard to think of a country that has a better story to tell than Taiwan. But that this is so infrequently heard may over time undermine American sympathy for Taiwan should China in fact decide to act. This is what Chen, it seems to be, is risking.

Poor Chen, the unwanted result, like a foundling baby in a Dickens novel (hint: in democracy there are no “unwanted” results by definition). Plate recognizes that Beijing is the problem, but thinks Chen ought not to rock the boat. But Tom — if Chen doesn’t speak up for Taiwan, who will? And how can he do so without causing a ruckus, since Beijing hates Taiwan’s democracy and freedom? The NUC issue was composed of two problems — Chen’s decision made without consulting his most important allies, and the wild US overreaction that simply encouraged China.