The cross-straits standoff of six decades added another rough chapter this last week. China’s chief cross-straits negotiator Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) met with Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in the highest level talks since the Communist and Nationalist war in 1949.
To demonstrate the absurdity of China-Taiwan relations, Chen and Ma finally managed to meet on the provision that Ma could be introduced as President of Taiwan and Chen would neither protest or acknowledge the “president” title for the leader of “the renegade province”. For neither protesting nor acknowledging, Taiwan now infers that China agrees to Ma’s “mutual non-denial” policy. That is, that both China and Taiwan will no longer pretend that the other doesn’t exist. So the diplomatic coup for Taiwan is “that China is not denying the mutual non-denial policy”.
And to reach that historic step the newly elected Taiwan government had to deploy an enormous police force to contain protests, stop display of the Taiwanese flag, and other patriotic actions. They have simultaneously run a political witch-hunt and detained, without charge, a number of the opposition party. Many feel they have taken an “improve economic ties with China” mandate to regress civil rights, oppress the opposition and quietly return Taiwan to China. Most seem too apathetic to care.
But all is not lost. Though political, social and economic control may be sliding westward, thanks to 50 years of an obsessive concrete fixation, a speedy physical relocation of Taiwan to China still remains unlikely.
A seaside or river photo from Taiwan almost invariably includes images of stacked concrete tetra-blocks. As a nation that is swept by 5 or 6 typhoons a year these concrete lumps are used to restrain the oceans and contain the rivers. Indeed, it feels like the civil engineers of Taiwan are determined to maintain the coastal shape and river courses. And inadvertently make the effort of moving Taiwan next to China a little more difficult.
On Lanyu Island the only two harbours are made entirely from these blocks.
On Shaoliouchiou island two designs reinforce the concrete wall and the top of the limestone reef.
The tetra-mold model-A in production use.
The Gaoping river on sections before it reaches the mud-plains.
Random splatterings of concrete from around the island.
Caishan village and fishing harbour, Kaohsiung.
You might well be thinking, how absurd is it that China would really want to move Taiwan 150 kilometers West across the strait. Only slightly less absurd than the charades and double-talk of the perpetual cross-strait stand-off.