How Taiwan Became Chinese is having an interesting little discussion of Tonio Andrade’s new book How Taiwan Became Chinese. I have not yet read the book, but I am familiar with Andrade’s earlier, excellent, work on the Dutch period in Taiwanese history. As one might expect, despite the fact that the book ends before 1700 and Andrade denies that his work should be read in light of current debates about the status of Taiwan, that is exactly what is happening. One of the main contentions of his book seems to be the not very controversial position that the Chinese settlement of Taiwan began under Dutch rule and that the early history of Chinese settlement should be understood in the context of the globalizing world of trade in East Asia. He also says that “Taiwan today is culturally Chinese.” This has needless to say led to some criticism, given that any statement you can make about the nature of Taiwan will lead to someone taking offense.


  1. Taiwan is of course a lot more culturally Chinese than the San Gabriel Valley. More to the point, Andrade explicitly says that he does not think that his work supports the mainland’s claims.

    “I worried that my title might help hawks in mainland China argue that Taiwan belongs to the People’s Republic of China, and I strongly believe that Taiwan belongs to its people and should be whatever they decide. They’re doing a great job ruling themselves.”

    Unfortunately for him there seems to be almost nothing you can say that will avoid this type of misunderstanding.

  2. China has increasing leverage not only over Taiwan, but also US. US currently have almost $9 trillion in debts, as China and Japan is the bankers for US. USA also increasingly depends on China for other geopolitical hot spots like North Korea, etc. This leverage is actually increasing, and accelerating because US is spending obscene money to prosecute this so-called War on Terror, losing money, American lives, political capital around the world, and the moral high ground around the world (just remember how the USA acquired Hawaii).

    So what does all this mean for Taiwan? The trend is quite obvious. The rest of the world is smart of enough to see the writing on the wall, as more and more countries recognize China’s One China Policy, and cut off diplomatic recognition of Taiwan. Taiwan can claim that it is a sovereign nation, but the reality is, it isn’t what Taiwan claim that matters, but rather, what does the major countries around the world recognize it as, that matters. Ultimately, given the current trends financially and geo-politically, Taiwan can realistically forget de jure independence. It will be lucky just to maintain Status Quo.

    I’m not saying reunification is necessarily the best solution. But looking at the trend realistically, honestly, and objectively, if there was any meaningful change to the current Status Quo, it’s more like in the direction of reunification, rather than de jure independence.

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