Taoist Lao Zi as a strategist, and the Taiwan issue

Sam Crane has a great paragraph regarding the North Korean situation. What has intrigued me most was his quoting of Lao Zi in Dao De Jing.

Lao Zi is actually a great strategist himself. The quote (paragraph 69) is:

  • 'There was once a saying among those who wielded armies:"I'd rather be a guest than a host, much rather retreat a foot than advance an inch." This is called "marching without marching,rolling up sleeves without baring arms,raising swords without bandishing weapons, entering battle without facing an enemy." There's no greater calamity than dishonoring an enemy. Dishonor an enemy and you'll lose those treasures of mine. When armies face on another in battle. It's always the [sorrowful/oppressed] one that prevails.' -- The difference in translation is mainly in the last phrase. I think the more appropariate word for "ai-zhe" is probably "the humble/oppressed" or "the one who recognize one's weakness/sorrow"
  • Original in Chinese, "用 兵 有 言 : '吾 不 敢 为 主 , 而 为 客 ﹔不 敢 进 寸 , 而 退 尺 。 ' 是 谓 行 无 行 ﹔ 攘 无 臂 ﹔扔 无 敌 ﹔ 执 无 兵 。祸 莫 大 于 轻 敌 , 轻 敌 几 丧 吾 宝 。 故 抗 兵 相 若 , 哀 者 胜 矣 。"
  • Henricks translation: "Those who use weapons have a saying which goes: "I don't presume to act like the host, and instead play the part of the guest; I don't advance an inch, but rather retreat a foot." -- This is called moving forward without moving forword. Rolling up one's sleeves without baring one's arms— Grasping firmly without holding a weapon— And enticing to fight when there's no opponent. Of disasters, none is greater than [thinking] you have no rival. To think you have no rival is to come close to losing my treasures. Therefore, when weapons are raised and [the opponents] are farily well matched, Then it's the one who feels grief that will win.

This is a great quote. It applies to the Taiwan defense option (as discussed in my previous posts)as well.

  • If Taiwan does nothing, after a few decades, its threat may disappears and the problem resolved by itself (as mianland China changes). Self determination would then become possible
  • For the mainland, if it does nothing and let go of its persistence about "one China". maybe the popular vote will not turn out to support independence. And even if it does, perhaps after another century taiwan would return into the confederate. Canada let Quebec voted, and they preferred to stay. For the Taiwanese, they would only want to join the mainland a few dacades later (if they do)

This is in essence what Sun Zi said, "the supreme excellency is winning without waging a war". Applied to the Soviet Union (by US in the cold war) in the past. Will apply to Taiwan, to North Korea, and to Iran as well. There are many ways to win without waging a war. This is particularly true if you think righteousness is on your side, because time is on the side of righteousness.


Sun Bin said...

meizhongtai thought my strategy is appeasement.

here is my reply:

Thanks for the discussion. you have made a good point.

Note I am also advocating CCP not doing anything (even if independence is declared!). I am ready to condemn any use of force under any circumstance by CCP, just for the record. My argument works both ways, to the CCP objective as well. The problem is that neither side is doing what I would ideally see, so some compromise is needed. Unfortunately, CCP is not listening to me. So I could only hope the Taiwan people choose their strategy more rationally.

IMHO DPP's objective of 'independence'(or self determination, which I wishfully hope) could be realistically achieved without necessarily provoking conflict, if the politicians are not so eager to make it their own accomplishment in their own lifetime.

As for my personal opinion, I don't care about independence or unification. I believe in self-determination. I am also a pragmatist, I believe that whatever serves the interests (economic, or safety) of the Taiwanese people should be above the selfish agenda of DPP or KMT or PFP, or CCP.

I am merely proposing a good strategy to achieve one's goal, that is not appeasing. Appeasing is to give up your goal. The options I listed have clear objectives and they do not include "give up" as a scenario or goal. I only said "wait with patience". And I have strong reason that change would come and the waiting would be rewarded. "Independence" may be or may not be the goal of 67% of the people. But self-determination is the goal, and it does not conflict with your independence school.

p.s. There is fundamental gap in your analogy with Munich, in that CCP is not moving into Penghu., and will never do so if status quo is maintained.

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