China: December 5, 2003



China-Taiwan Who's Who

Peoples Republic of China (PRC) Ostensibly Communist regime on the mainland of East Asia. Population just under 1.3 billion. Currently seeks reunification with Taiwan, and is not above using force to achieve it. The only major political party in the PRC is the Chinese Communist Party.

Republic of China (ROC), also known as Taiwan Located on the island of Formosa. Has not claimed independence, but the general consensus among the people is that they are a de facto independent nation. Once authoritarian under the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) led by Chaing Kai-Shek, Taiwan has become a functioning multi-party democracy, much to the chagrin of the PRC.

Political Parties (ROC) Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a pro-independence party to which Chen Shui-bian belongs; Kuomintang (KMT) or Nationalist Party, long the ruling party which goes back to before World War II most famous leader was Chaing Kai-Shek, who led China in World War II; People First Party (PFP), led by James Soong, the second-place finisher in the 2000 presidential election; Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU); other minor parties, including the China New Party (CNP) also exist. Last legislative election results: DPP 39 percent, KMT 30 percent, PFP 20 percent, TSU 6 percent, independents and others 5 percent. Seats in Legislative Yuan: DPP 87, KMT 68, PFP 46, TSU 13, others 11.

Major Players:

Hu Jintao President of the Peoples Republic of China. Succeeded Jiang Zemin.

Wei Jiabao Premier of the Peoples Republic of China.

Chen Shui-bian President of the Republic of China. Member of the Democratic Progressive Party, which is pro-independence.

George W. Bush President of the United States. In 2001, stated that the U.S. would do whatever it takes to defend Taiwan.

Other Players:

Peoples Liberation Army (PLA): Largest military force in the world, based on manpower. Component Parts include Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Peoples Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). Should China decide to use force to accomplish reunification, this is the entity that will have to achieve that objective against the highly-trained and motivated Taiwanese forces. That could prove to be quite difficult.

Seventh Fleet, United States Navy Should things degenerate into a war between the PRC and ROC, this entity could be involved, particularly given the 2001 comment by President George W. Bush.

Other Interested Parties:

Japan Much of Japans maritime trade passes near the area where a war would take place. There is also long-standing distrust between Japan and the PRC.

Republic of Korea (ROK, also known as South Korea) A China-Taiwan conflict could distract the United States and possibly give the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) an opening to attack. The DPRK will be watching with interest as well, and could see a major sponsor weakened if a war goes bad.

Vietnam Had has its own history with China, one that is not very pleasant. Beat the Chinese in a 1979 border war. -- Harold C. Hutchison




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