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What do Madagascar's Malagasy, New Zealand's Maori, and the Hawaiians of the USA have in common?
Well, we can see the commonalities of these 3 groups, and many more, all across the Southern and Eastern hemispheres,
in an area we can call, Austronesia.
Today, we will focus on language, but much of the same evidence can be found in biology or archaeology too.
Just as you're closer to your brother than your cousin, and to your cousin than a Bantu tribesman,
...unless you yourself are a Bantu tribesman,
we can date linguistic developments, by language features of related tongues.
It turns out that the languages of these three groups are relatively undifferentiated.
Meaning these differences that span the globe occurred relatively recently, less than 4000 years ago.
Anthropologically, in the blink of an eye.
The Austronesian civilisation was, oceanically speaking, far ahead of the rest of the world in its development.
They invented stable, multiple-hulled vessels, and sophisticated oceanographic maps,
that allowed long-distance nautical endeavour, long ahead of its development in Europe.
Such is their success in spreading across the world, that there are very few remaining descendants of the previous civilisations.
Most of the ones that do remain, have themselves adopted Austronesian languages.
But this isn't the whole story. These aren't the only members of the Austronesian family.
They are but of one branch.
While *these* are all linguistically close but geographically very distant,
all other branches of this tree, are geographically proximate, but linguistically very distant.
Meaning that *these* languages, are the oldest examples of the Austronesian family.
We find them on the island of Taiwan.
The aboriginals of Taiwan were not Chinese, but have lots of contact with the Chinese for a long time.
No dynasty, or ruler, extended their influence to this island. He says.
The successful early Chinese unification couldn't have happened elsewhere in Eurasia.
China is the only place on the continent where divisions don't divide north and south.
There is no Sahara, or Himalayas, or Mediterranean dividing China.
Contact, and therefore conflict, was always on the horizon.
And China unified quite early as a political entity, albeit under different dynastical crowns.
The history of Chinese war is a story of evolution-style selection pressures.
It was a crucible of war, designed to select the dominant group, for whom the heavenly mandate was (to) expand,
...or the other group will. It followed the typical method of expansion for a unified empire.
Step 1: Protect your people because there are barbarians on the border.
Step 2: Conquer the barbarians and try to, “civilise” them
Step 3: Barbarians eventually stop being barbarians.
You're not distinct enough to call them “barbarians”, they're now your people,
...and you have to protect your people, because there are barbarians on the border.
This was Sinicisation. Sinicisation means conversion to the dominant Han Chinese culture in every way.
From its beginning with the Han on the northern plains, more people have been Sinicised,
...than conversion to any nationhood in history. It doesn't all go smoothly though.
Some of the deepest divisions that exist on mainland China today remain, diet (food, cuisine).
For one, the differences in climate and landscape means that crops and farming methods,
from the tropical to the desert to the tundra, just don't translate.
Even less so, in the world of vast amounts of small-scale feudal peasant farming.
The places where the non-Han minorities remain, are the Tibetan tundra,
the arid steppe of Inner Mongolia, the Uyghur, desert west, and the highland south,
where minority languages also thrive. The fringes of China. The difficult areas to Sinicise.
One place China couldn't spread easily, was across the water.
Taiwan in the east was frequented by Chinese fisherman, but the Chinese never settled permanently. They just couldn't.
There wasn't enough of a pull, or technological ability to counter the aboriginals' home field advantage.
They had high immunity to each other's diseases,
...and as we can see from the story of the Austronesian expansion, they're not exactly pushovers.
It took a catalyst for the two to properly come into conflict, and that catalyst, was Dutch.
The acrimonious emancipation of the Netherlands from the Spanish Empire led to a scramble for overseas possessions.
There are two world-class natural ports for trade empires in maritime Southeast Asia.
Manila (Philippines) and Batavia (Indonesia).
Spain and the Netherlands ended up with one each, and from these bases,
projected their power in the East Indies.
One island that took both of their interest, was Ilha Formosa,
...named by the Portuguese for its beauty.
It's not the only example of Portuguese sweet talk.
They were the first Europeans to trade in a closed Japan, and they also managed to get themselves a little trading port in Macau.
Other countries weren't able to do that.
The Dutch for example would not kowtow.
They were never on good terms with the mainland. So you know that they did?
They parked themselves right across the water, on the beautiful island of Formosa.
Unlike other East Asian land masses, this island is not made of plains interspersed among mountains.
The two are removed from each other.
On the Pacific Rim of Fire, one plate slipped under another and created mountains,
...exclusively on the eastern edge of the island.
The plains, and therefore the interesting, valuable lands to agricultural and industrial societies,
are all on the side facing mainland China.
That's where foreign forts and investments were made. And where plantations were built.
And Chinese labourers were invited.
Thanks to Sino-European expansion in the island, aboriginals remained mostly in the mountains, and the east.
Shortly prior to this point, the Ming dynasty were the rulers of China.
But they hadn't taken control of the Mongol homeland from their predecessors.
A rump empire from the former Yuan dynasty remained in the north.
And the Ming were deathly focused on land defense,
...like you kind of have to be with Mongols.
This is why the Ming build the Great Wall into its largest and most complete form.
They had one of the biggest land armies in history, and they needed it.
But even the largest empires don't have unlimited resources.
By the time of European excursions into their waters, it was starting to crumble.
So the Ming weren't as navally-inclined as they might have been.
And the Dutch settling a little way away didn't seem to be the biggest threat in the world.
So there the Dutch were. With their extremely portable Western-style capitalist farming methods,
...using Taiwan as an economic colony. The Chinese workers were afforded land and the ability to settle.
Oh, and the Spanish also set themselves up on the island.
The Dutch and Spanish faced huge challenges. Not only with working with the Chinese and firing at each other,
...there were also the aboriginals who had a pesky habit of scalping Europeans.
The Dutch eventually drove out the Spanish, but the one threat they never saw,
...was the Chinese that they themselves invited.
The colonial heads in Dutch Java refused to afford any more protection or resources.
No women were allowed to settle in Formosa, for the potential danger of the aboriginals and natural disaster.
Locusts, and disease, and seven weeks of earthquakes had plagued the island.
The conditions for the working Chinese were awful. The Dutch had not held up their end of the bargain.
Their ventures were ruined, and almost all revenue came from the Chinese themselves,
...who didn't see much reason to remain under European control.
So raise its head, the common theme in Chinese history, a peasant rebellion.
Meanwhile on the mainland, the Ming's army wasn't doing its job.
The economy was also collapsing and famines were rife.
If you can't pay your army you can't feed your army.
And it doesn't matter how big the army is, you'll have problems.
Especially when another group comes along and promises them the world.
The Manchus were a small, ethnic group in the northeast, who couldn't have come to power
...were it not for the swathes of the Han majority willing to rebel against the Ming.
This pan-ethnic alliance called itself the Qing.
They took on the rump Mongol Yuan dynasty that had plagued the Ming from the north,
...at the same time the Russians were poking their noses into the Far East.
The Qing were unstoppable. But that news didn't seem to have reached the islanders.
While the Chinese rebellion against the Dutch was in full swing , loyalists to the Ming made this island their aim.
Eventually the Dutch was sufficiently besieged. They lost and abandoned the island.
The Kingdom of Tungning was declared by Chinese Ming loyalists to take over the new Chinese society,
...and its economic ventures.
From now on, the island is not Formosa, but most definitely Taiwan.
So mainland China was under a new Qing government, and Taiwan was under the control
...of the remnants of the previous rulers of the mainland.
Of course, through inevitable naval invasion, the Qing eventually came to control Taiwan,
... but despite its settlement by the Chinese it was not seen as a core area of the nation.
That was until the Japanese took it away. We always want what we can't have, don't we?
Chinese fragility seemed perennial. It either needed an iron fist, or the ideological support of the whole nation.
Without the former, the Qing never had the latter.
As China was opening up to the world, alternatives flooded the country.
Democracy, fascism, republicanism, communism even. And what was wrong with monarchy in the first place?
This was a fertile age of fantastic variety in political thought.
The vacuum left by the fallen empire was filled by a temporary military government called the Beiyang.
But it didn't end up being so “temporary”.
This fractured warlord era presided over a mess. No central authority could withstand Japanese incursions,
...despite them also being involved in World War 1.
That's not to say that they didn't try to resist. In the southern city of Guangzhou,
...the Kuomintang, a Chinese republican movement, have joined the party.
They tried their utmost best to ally with the right friends to oppose the right people,
make their way across this giant nation to unify the whole darn country.
And after no less than two decades the Nationalists achieved their unification. Finally...
But then they turned around and massacred all the Communists. We just don't learn, do we?
The second civil war, which followed immediately on the heels of the first,
...coincidentally overlapped with another World War.
The destruction of the, this time, full-scale Japanese invasion, put a little pause on the Nationalist-Communist conflict,
while they teamed up with the unions of states and Soviets, to put a little downer on the Japanese there.
And China by FAR didn't come out unschathed.
Even beyond the crimes against humanity committed by Japanese soldiers, on the low-end estimate,
...four million soldiers and fifteen million civilians died.
One event in the resistance against the Japanese was so unbelievably catastrophic.
The 1938 Yellow River flood was not a natural disaster, but a military tactic,
...chosen by the Nationalist government, to slow the Empire's march.
Dikes were destroyed, and one of the most densely-populated areas of the world was washed asunder.
The price paid, was no less than half a million Chinese lives, and between five and 12 million refugees.
It took a decade for the river to return to its natural course, and generations of people have never returned.
Events like this, are touchpaper for revolution.
And when your life and world are destroyed like this, you have so little left to lose.
The Communist Party cleaned up in terms of recruitment from these affected people,
...and after the surrender of Japan, Taiwan was returned, but China remained in civil war.
The island came to be home of all the remnants of the Chinese Republic,
...once the communist People's Republic had taken total control of the mainland.
Now, why is this story familiar?
Throughout the rest of the 20th century, the Republic of China, as the state of Taiwan is officially known,
...has struggled to maintain the appearance of legitimacy.
Both the legacy of the Japanese and the historical existence of the non-Chinese aboriginals,
...could lead to accusations of colonialism.
And at this point in history, that was the worst thing in the world. Sinicisation was back on the agenda.
This was one of the great stories of history, convincing the world that Taiwan was “Chinese”.
But as we know, they weren't the only Chinese.
How can a stunted, rump state claim to be the representative for over a billion people?
Why can't they just be on their own? Thank the United Nations cartel.
The only thing that determines whether something is a country, is whether other countries think its a country.
That's how we can dismiss some independence movement as frivolous or illegal, but allow some others,
...if they pass the rules and concerns and even the whims of the most powerful members of the United Nations club.
Very few members are going to recognise the Republic of China, when big daddy People's Republic sits there,
...with its economic, and military, and political, and nuclear power.
Generally what People's Republic says, goes,
...and People's Republic says Taiwan belongs to People's Republic.
So on the international stage, Taiwan can do whatever trade and sport they like in private.
But within the earshot of the People's Republic, everyone has to publicly pretend, that Taiwan doesnt exist.
*PRC national anthem "March of the Volunteers" plays*
It's always good to see patterns in history to understand the present,
...no matter how many Chinas or Taiwans you think there are.
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Two Taiwans, Two Chinas, Twice

1168 タグ追加 保存
deghyp 2019 年 8 月 10 日 に公開
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