TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — American YouTuber Nathan Rich, who goes by the handle "Hot Pot King" (火鍋大王), has released another video in which he does his master's bidding and erroneously claims Taiwan is part of China.
Rich, a former Scientologist, has been running a YouTube channel in China that has been parroting the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) talking points since 2015. He makes his money by putting up videos on Chinese social media and through ads and Patreon. Simply put, the more pro-China he is, the more he earns.
In his latest video, posted on Tuesday (Nov. 10), Rich claims that since the beginning of Chinese history and the formation of a "civilizational state," there have always been "regions, states, and provinces within it." By dint of the fact that China is in East Asia, Rich, and by extension the CCP, believe that all of East Asia is in fact China.
Try telling that to Japan, Mongolia, and the two Koreas, let alone Taiwan. It is a kind of wishful thinking — an irrational, childish babble — that effectively says: "If we say it, it must be true." "And if you don't agree with me, I will throw my toys out of the pram."
Rich then rattles off a list of reasons why Taiwan has "always" been part of China. But if these "reasons" really had merit, then why is it an issue for China? As an analogy, if a house owner has the deeds to their property and everyone agrees he or she is the owner, they would not come up with ever more tortuous arguments to prove the house is theirs.
As for the facts, even CCP historians do not pretend that Chinese have always lived in Taiwan. It was occupied by indigenous tribes with an Austronesian background from at least 3000 BC.
America is Scandinavian?
In fact, there were few if any Chinese living in Taiwan until the Dutch occupied the island in 1624 and brought in Chinese labor. As the BBC has previously pointed out, "The island first appears in Chinese records in AD 239, when China sent an expeditionary force to explore — a fact Beijing uses to back its territorial claim."
This is like Scandinavian countries claiming the whole of North America because a Viking called Leif Erikson may (or may not) have come across Canada in the 10th century. Obviously, if Sweden, Denmark, Norway, or Finland made such a claim now, they would be laughed at.
Even if it was admitted that Taiwan did once belong to China in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), this would be problematic for China, since it was being occupied itself at the time by the Manchurians. Also, they signed it over to Japan in 1895's Treaty of Shimonoseki. Yet, neither ethnic Jurchens nor Japanese claim Taiwan, and if they ever did they would not be taken seriously.
This raises a question: why should we take Rich seriously when he claims that Taiwan is a "state" but not a "sovereign state." He cites the constitutive theory which means that recognition by other countries provides de jure sovereignty.
Naturally, we do not have to accept Rich's definition of state. We could just as easily and more constructively turn to Wikipedia or Merriam-Webster, where a state is defined as "a politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory."
This perfectly describes Taiwan, a freedom-loving, democratic country that is currently being lauded for its solutions to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. In addition, it votes for its leader and representatives, is legally enlightened (first Asian country to allow same-sex marriages), and is a major economy that leads the world in semiconductors and other hi-tech industries.
Rich enjoys playing the United Nations card, saying China has been recognized by the UN and the "overwhelming majority of countries since 1971." Furthermore, according to Rich, the People's Republic of China (PRC) is "the only lawful representative of China" — and not the Republic of China (Taiwan's formal name).
One country called Taiwan
Rich then claims that since Taiwan is the Republic of China, the island of Taiwan and all the territories it controls "would still be part of China." However, he does not explain why territory that never belonged to the CCP should automatically belong to it.
Of course not. That would also mean explaining why China insists it is not an expansionist or colonial nation, even though it has annexed Tibet, Xinjiang, and most recently, Hong Kong — despite promising a hands-off "one country, two systems" approach until at least 2047.
Rich, who has no expertise in international law whatsoever, likes to spout legalese and insists that since the U.N. does not recognize Taiwan (because of China) then it cannot legally be a country. But this is just an argument from convenience.
If Rich or China really were such believers in international law, then they would give up their claims to most of the South China Sea. In 2016, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ruled against China's claims — but that hasn't stopped them insisting it's all theirs. If it's one rule for China and another for everyone else, it's no rule at all.
Rich also claims the "overwhelming recognition of the PRC as the one and only government of China continues to grow." He pointed out that since moving to China in 2012, six countries have dropped diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, with three more following suit since he started making videos two years ago.
Rich reckons that not only do "almost no countries in the world" recognize Taiwan, "that number is rapidly declining." Well, if that were the case, why worry? Why pursue checkbook diplomacy or threaten and cajole nations that freely wish to support Taiwan?
Actually, 14 countries do recognize Taiwan, including the Holy See, which used to be enough recognition for anyone, anywhere. The United States, Europe, and countries elsewhere are thinking about increasing recognition for Taiwan. Also, more countries are pressurizing international bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO) to include Taiwan.
If all these states did recognize Taiwan as well as the UN, would Rich then admit defeat in the face of international law? Or would he continue to follow Beijing's lead? Our view is that he has a short leash.
Considering China's bellicosity and bullying, it is now perceived to be a threat to world peace. Taiwan, meanwhile, is seen as a force for good, and its people are welcomed wherever they go.
Rich has a colorful past, including joining a gang and having "Slut in the City" tattooed on his hands plus a long list of drug charges and convictions. But he seems to have turned his life around in China. Good for him.
Unfortunately, he released another video recently that seems to suggest that he has a tumor in his leg. He is depending on Chinese healthcare to get better, and that is expensive.
As he says in the video, "I know China is not going to abandon me." So, we can reasonably expect more hit jobs on Taiwan — a nation he has not visited and does not know — to pay the piper.
We wish Rich a speedy recovery. Perhaps he could then make a trip to Taiwan and see for himself what a great place it is. We are sure he would then be inspired to make a "TAIWAN IS A COUNTRY" video in response.