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Home > News > Report

China's Taiwan nightmare

Nikhil Lakshman in Beijing | January 13, 2008 22:39 IST

For the Chinese the coming plebiscite in Taiwan -- January 22 to March 22, Taiwanese will vote on whether their nation should join the United Nations -- represents the biggest foreign policy challenge in recent years.

China wants Taiwan to be become part of the mainland -- Taiwan, a booming economy, came into being when Chiang Kai-shek and his nationalists fled to the island of Taiwan after losing a bloody civil war to the Communists led by Mao Zedong. The possibility of a China-US military encounter over Taiwan is a real one given the strong sentiments on unification in Beijing [Images]. Taiwan lost its UN membership in 1971 when the People's Republic of China became a member.

"If a majority says yes in the referendum, it would give legitimacy in Taiwan to stay independent of China," says a Sinologist in New Delhi. "Taiwan may have to wait as long as the PRC did -- 22 years -- to be a UN member, but even if 2, 3 countries sponsor its membership, it is a monkey on China's back."