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The CCP suffers from “secession denial syndrome”

People wave Chinese flags beneath a large portrait of the late leader Mao Zedong during a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of th...

People wave Chinese flags beneath a large portrait of the late leader Mao Zedong during a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of th...

Members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) suffer from a mental illness that can be aptly described as "secession denial syndrome" (SDS).

The affliction appears to affect only those who are members of a secessionist political organization. Symptoms include an inability to admit that one's political party has committed secession as well as a compulsion to arbitrarily and falsely accuse others of promoting secession.

Last November, China slapped sanctions on three top Taiwanese officials (Premier Su Tseng-chang, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, and Legislative Yuan President You Si-kun), labeling them "diehard Taiwan secessionists" and accusing them of "colluding with foreign forces to split China." The CCP's portrayal completely distorts history and attempts to blame Taiwanese for the communists' own doings. It's a perfect example of SDS.

When the Republic of China (ROC) was founded in 1912, only "one China" existed. From 1927 to 1949, the CCP attempted to destroy the ROC government but instead only succeeded in driving it to the island of Taiwan, a former Japanese colony that had been controlled by the ROC for a mere 4 years.

When the communists established the PRC in 1949, they brought a second China into existence. By carving out a massive chunk of the ROC — in effect seceding from it — the CCP created a new and separate country. The ROC was left in control of just Taiwan and a handful of tiny islands.

International law discourages secession, especially when it is achieved through the use of force, so it's not surprising that much of the world refused to diplomatically recognize the PRC until the 1970s and that its officials have always denied that they are, in fact, secessionists.

In the communist fantasy narrative, they pretend they eliminated the ROC and that only "one China" remained —the PRC. It was never true. Although the ROC was reduced to a fraction of its former self, it continues to exist as a sovereign, independent, medium-sized country of 23.9 million people. It has achieved some of the highest levels of wealth, freedom, and democracy in the world.

In order to avoid confusion with the PRC, which is usually just called "China," nearly everyone now refers to the ROC as "Taiwan," including the PRC. Due to Taiwan's complicated history, many Taiwanese strongly dislike their country's official name and avoid using it as much as possible. Even President Tsai Ing-wen declined to mention it in her 2022 New Year's address.

The reason the Taiwanese have been reluctant to change their country's official name is because the PRC has threatened to invade once they do. In 2005, the PRC even enshrined this threat into law — the so-called "Anti-Secession Law."

Many Taiwanese dislike not only the ROC's name but also the national flag and anthem. They associate it with the brutal, authoritarian rule of Chiang Kai Shek and the Kuomintang, who relocated to Taiwan from China in 1949. Local Taiwanese came to view the Chinese as outsiders who were uninvited and whose rule was less competent, more corrupt, and more coercive than that of the Japanese, who ruled Taiwan from 1895-1945.

The Chinese comprised less than 15% of the population in 1949, yet they monopolized political power and imposed their language and ideology on the locals. After much struggle, Taiwanese finally earned the right to democratically govern themselves in the 1990s.

Today, the old generation of China-born Taiwanese is dying off, and younger generations of Taiwanese have very little connection to China. The majority identify as Taiwanese, not Chinese. Many would prefer to change the official name of their country to "Taiwan" since that better represents them. It's also the name the rest of the world already uses.

The “Republic of China” was a reasonable name from 1912-1949 when the ROC government controlled all of China. However, now that 99% of the ROC's territory consists of the island of Taiwan, changing the official name to "Republic of Taiwan" or simply "Taiwan" makes a lot more sense geographically and is less confusing.

Contrary to PRC hype, this name change would not be an act of secession, a declaration of independence, or even a big deal. It is also not the PRC's "internal affair." It is the ROC's internal affair.

For far too long, the fog of propaganda has obscured the reality that the PRC in fact seceded from the ROC in 1949. As a result, Taiwan became almost the totality of the ROC.

Because Taiwan was never part of the PRC, it is incapable of seceding or declaring independence from it. Any attempts by the PRC to construe Taiwanese as secessionists are therefore completely baseless. Every time a PRC official falsely accuses a Taiwanese national of secessionism, he or she should be diagnosed with SDS, pitied, and offered treatment.

The ROC and the PRC have always been sovereign equals, with neither subordinate to the other. The ROC has every right to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity and to make its own political decisions.

Taiwanese who oppose absorption into the PRC and refuse to pledge loyalty to dictator Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party are being branded by PRC state media as criminals to be pursued "for life" who have "no place to hide." This is so outrageous that it would be comical if it weren't so serious.

Unification of the ROC and PRC under a "one country, two systems" arrangement like in Hong Kong would result in the entire ROC government being thrown in prison and every independent newspaper in Taiwan being shut down — including Taiwan News. Supporting that would be unconscionable.

Free and democratic countries must stop indulging the PRC's "one China" lie. It is time to speak frankly. The current reality is that there are "two Chinas," the democratic ROC and the autocratic PRC, and democracies will not stand for forced unification under communist rule.

If Taiwanese would like to change their country's official name to "Taiwan" so that there are no longer "two Chinas" but instead "one China and one Taiwan," then democracies should respect the will of the Taiwanese people. Continued bullying from the PRC must be met with a united front of economic sanctions, diplomatic derecognition, and military readiness. That may be the only cure for the Chinese Communist Party's SDS.

Lindell Lucy is an American based in Tokyo. He has a B.A. in philosophy from Stanford University and is currently studying international relations at the Harvard Extension School.

Updated : 2022-01-21 01:04 GMT+08:00