Smoke filtered through the gaps in the beaded curtain that hid their booth. Between both of their cigarettes, the air around them matched a Beijing skyline.
Long nails clicked against porcelain as Taiwan fixed her tea. China smoked quietly and every so often resisted the urge to check his buzzing cellphone. Should have silenced it.
“Have you been well?” She asked after a long lull of silence. It was a safe question.
China kept his eyes off of her. “Yes, I think so.”
Taiwan leaned down and breathed in.”What a nice scent. You said this was chun mee, didn’t you?”
“Maybe I could make us tung-ting next time.”
“I don’t like oolong.”
Taiwan’s lips pursed. “You are being impossible.”
He sat up suddenly. “Excuse me? Green tea is healthy. You ought to drink it more. It lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. You could benefit–”
“Oh, shut up. I’ll drink your tea.”
Had she not been sitting, Taiwan’s knees might have buckled under the weight of her indignation. “You stole my name and everything I had. I spent eight long years fighting Japan and all the horrors she brought to this land, and you took advantage of me in my exhausted state. It was the only way you could win, wasn’t it?” She wished the liquor in “China’s” shot glass had been as poisonous as her words. She would have loved to see him croak right then and there.
“You were incompetent, corrupt, and weak with or without the Japanese Empire.” The impostor spoke without any bit of feeling in his voice. So typical of communists to be devoid of any ounce of humanity. “But have you already forgotten?” The glass was set down on the side table with a soft click and China leaned back in his chair. “The Allied victory would have been impossible without communist contribution. You’re welcome.”
Taiwan clenched her teeth. Smug bastard. Look at him sitting there with that stupid look on his face. So confident and full of himself. It’s hard to look powerful in such an ugly outfit. Nice suit, nerd.
She snapped back to reality only to flash him the most painfully forced smile she could muster. “China. My name is China.”
He smiled back. “Of course. You are China, I am China, and we are China.”
“I know that when you say that, it is only because you suffer from the delusion that you own me.”
“And you suffer from the delusion that I don’t.” He relished the hot anger that flashed across her face, then stole a glance at his watch. “If you want to continue playing the role of a breakaway province, so be it. I’m sure that eventually, you will come to accept that you are not a country.”
“I wouldn’t dare make this that easy for you.”
He stood. “I’ve enjoyed this brief meeting, but I’m afraid I have a prior engagement.”
She lifted her chin at him. “So you’re running away?”
“North Korea is very particular about timeliness.”
Taiwan scowled. That kid was a real piece of work. Another brainwashed cog for the USSR’s giant socialist screwball machine. “Oh, that’s lovely. And will you stop by Russia’s afterward so the three of you can hold hands in a circle and recite lines of Marx and Lenin to each other?”
“I have to go.”
Taiwan shouted at his back as he made for the door. “Enjoy your date, asshole.”
Taiwan couldn’t help but feel America staring at her peculiarly. He, like everyone else, was shocked to see “Formosa” alive and well. Except she wasn’t a Dutch or Japanese colony. She was China, the centuries-old dynasty-gone-republic that had survived the Mongols, fascism, and now, communism.
Eventually America said, “Yeah. This whole situation is one big mess of weird.”
“But you will recognize and support my claim to all of China, and my legitimacy as the true successor to the Chinese state?”
“Naturally! To hell with that commie bastard, right?” He laughed. “It’s all you, baby.”
But so much changes in sixty years.
Today’s big question: What do you think of the situation and who, of China and Taiwan, do you think is right? Or is there even a right or wrong here at all?
Quick history lesson: The Government of Formosa (Taiwan) was established in 1624 after the island was discovered by the Dutch and then placed under Dutch colonial rule. Skip ahead to 1683 when the Qing dynasty annexes Taiwan. Taiwan becomes a province of China. Then China loses Taiwan to Japan in the First Sino-Japanese War. Taiwan becomes a colony of Japan. Then Japan loses WW2 and that’s when things start getting a little weird. Japan had to give its colonial territories up and Taiwan was placed back under Chinese rule. Skip ahead to 1949 and you have a communist victory at the end of China’s Civil War. The communists kicked the existing government, the Republic of China, out and established the People’s Republic of China on the mainland. The ousted ROC established itself on the island known as Taiwan.
So now you’ve got two “new” countries, essentially, both claiming to be China. For a while, the US and other communist haters recognized nationalist Taiwan as the real China because they, you know, hated communism. But eventually the world decided that the legitimate China would be the one controlling the mainland. That’s why most places call the Republic of China Taiwan and not China; they recognize the mainland People’s Republic of China as being the “real” China.
In 1992, Taiwan and China agreed to a modified One-China Policy. I won’t explain that here because that’d be just another wall of text, but you can learn all about it from this episode of China Uncensored.
In June, China shut down communication channels with Taiwan over the Taiwanese president’s refusal to accept the “one China” policy. I think the important takeaway is that Taiwan sees herself as a strong, independent woman and not just a mere province of the domineering mainland China. Taiwan doesn’t want to reunify, basically. You ever hear the song “You Don’t Own Me?”