From one perspective, the Communist crackdown on Tibet couldn't come at a better time. The Olympics is still five months away - more than enough time, sadly, for people to forget what has happened this month. Furthermore, this could take a lot of steam out of the reaction to the 50th anniversary of the bloody March 1959 crackdown. From another angle, however, it couldn't have come at a worse time, because Taiwan will elect a new President on Saturday.
Up until last week, it was fairly certain who the President would be - former Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou. Ma is the nominee of the Kuomintang (Nationalist - KMT for short) party; the party which under Chiang Kai-Shek ran all of China, then retreated to Taiwan in 1949 and ruled until losing power in the election of 2000.
Older readers might remember the KMT as the leading anti-Communist force in East Asia, but that was a long time ago. During the 1990's, under President Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan transitioned to a democracy, and the Taiwanese people became more confident in themselves, their elected government (Lee stood for election in 1996 and won overwhelmingly), and their right to be treated as an independent nation.
Meanwhile, Communist China, sensing an opportunity in the increasingly homesick leadership of the KMT, began making overtures toward winning them over. The "one country, two systems" model for Hong Kong (which looked a lot better before it was implemented than it does eleven years on) was touted as a possible future for Taiwan - and many in the KMT started abandoning anti-Communism and supported reunification even under Communist rule.
Lee, however, did not, which set off a factional split in the KMT that allowed the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to win in 2000 under Chen Shui-bian. The split within the KMT was so bad that Lee quit the party and formed his own (the Taiwan Solidarity Union), which endorsed Chen for re-election (he won). Now, however, after eight years, Taiwanese voters seemed to be tired of the DPP, while the KMT nominated Ma - who has taken care to adopt anti-Communist rhetoric his entire career.
The DPP nominee (former Premier Frank Hsieh) had been unable to gain any traction, even as Ma proposed a "peace treaty" with the Communists. All the signs pointed to a KMT blowout - until Tibet started bleeding.
How worried was Ma? He uttered these words when asked about the possibility of the Communists doing the same to Taiwan: "Taiwan is not Tibet ... we are a sovereign country" (CNS News). To KMT supporters, those words are the sine qua non of political incorrectness. To top it off, Ma even talked about boycotting the Olympics this morning (Agence France Presse).
Will it be enough? It's hard to say. As I mentioned earlier, these aren't Ma's first anti-Communist statements. The concern was always whether or not the rest of the KMT would push him towards "reconciliation" - and that concern won't go away no matter what Ma says. Still, if Ma wins, he will not be able to run away from his anti-Communist rhetoric without suffering horrendous political consequences, if Taiwan still has the opportunity to deliver them.
Why do I say that? Three years ago an inside CCP source leaked that the Communist regime intends to conquer Taiwan by no later than 2012. This timeline is not dependent on Taiwanese policy, but rather the Communists' schedule for neutralizing dissidents. Of course, the Communists have repeatedly tired to cover their true face with their "peaceful rise" nonsense - nonsense has been literally shot away in Tibet.
What Tibet has revealed is the true nature of the Communist regime, which Taiwan's voters should not take lightly. I would humbly submit (since I'm American and not Taiwanese, it can be nothing but humbly), that the island democracy cannot risk Ma succumbing to the Communist-sympathizing elements of the KMT. It is far better to stick with the true anti-Communist coalition (DPP-TSU), and elect Frank Hsieh - which as Tibet continues to bleed - might just happen now.
Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal