Recently, the United States announced it would deliver an arms package to Taiwan. Simple, right? Not really; there are layers, and we all know how dangerous those can be.
America leaned back against the polished wooden chair and drummed his fingers against his knees. “This is weird. We’ve never done this before, have we?”
“Why would we? You only hold secret meetings with other countries, isn’t that right?” Taiwan’s voice was like coffee with just cream; you didn’t realize that it was bitter until you thought about it enough.
“North Korea isn’t a country either, but I’ve been alone with him in a room before.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
The corner of America’s mouth came up when he cracked a smile. “What we’re about to do is going to make China really mad.” His voice was soft and low, but not a bit concerned. With that half-smile on his face, he looked amused.
“Everything I do makes China mad.” Taiwan’s hands moved, fingers twitched–like they were supposed to be doing something. Searching for something. “The only thing that wouldn’t upset him would be my throwing myself at his feet and begging for assimilation.”
“Don’t worry about assimilation. Your 1.4 billion is buying you a lot of fire power. Should make him think twice about touching you.”
“Hopefully I’ll never use it,” her mouth stretched into a taut smile, “but it’s good to be prepared.”
“Are you afraid of him?”
America laughed. “What’s he gonna do to me?” Taiwan looked down and parted her lips to say something, but closed them again without making any words. He cocked his head. “What?”
“I almost said that I envied you, but then I realized how stupid that would have been.” Her fingers were restless again. She placed them in her lap and held them there. “It’s very important that we continue making these deals. China will keep trying to isolate me until I’m weak and vulnerable and he’s the only one I have to run to. Things like this remind him that his strategy won’t work.”
America leaned forward. “My stance on the policy isn’t going to change, but if it comes down to it, I don’t expect you to just roll over. Not for him.” America’s voice became coffee, too, dripping off that last word.
After a moment, life found its way back to Taiwan’s face and voice. “Let’s announce our deal tomorrow, as he’s ‘celebrating’ Handover. Yes, let’s ruin his whole damn day.” Actually, it was less like life and more like poison, but then the mood shifted in an instant. After a pause, she went on.
“Sort of a funny thing for him to celebrate, don’t you think? He didn’t free anyone, just gave them a new set of chains. That’s how he works.” The air in the tea shop got heavy as the conversation drifted somewhere dangerous. “He squeezes loyalty out of you with oppression, he’ll choke you until you submit. He thinks it’s alright because it’s slow, gentle, sometimes. But strangulation is strangulation. Dominance is dominance.” She looked right at America. “You understand because you do it to people too, don’t you?”
“Do you enjoy it?”
He smiled, then his eyebrows pulled together in thought. “You wanted us to meet in person when we could have just settled this over the phone. Why’s that?”
“I wanted to be sure I was still real.”
America got up to leave, but then leaned toward her and tapped his knuckles against the table a few times. “Enjoy the missiles, Taiwan.”
The United States and most others maintain official diplomatic relations with mainland China alone. If you break the status quo (One China Policy), you risk damaging your relationship with China because China sees Taiwan as a rebellious province and not a real country. Since no one really wants to be on bad terms with China, China being really rich and influential and all, Taiwan generally gets left in the dust.
A situation now arises because the US-Taiwan arms deal has shaken up the One China Policy a little, since making any kind of deal with Taiwan sort of implies that you kind of officially recognizes it as being a real country–even just somewhat. This is not the first arms deal between the two, and it probably won’t be the last.
The Handover Day reference was to the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong being given back to China after 100ish years of British rule. Here you can read a little more about the history and oppression Taiwan mentioned.
I used pstutorialsws‘s watercolor brushes in the featured image.