He calls himself Maestro Wu, tall, thin gangly and absorbed in his workshop at the back of his store. Along one wall is welding equipment, lathes, sharpening blocks and along another stack upon stack of old artillery shells, caked with soil and rust, dug up from fields in the Taiwanese island of Kinmen – just a few minutes boat ride from the Chinese mainland.
Between 1958 and 1978, China fired hundreds of thousands of shells onto Kinmen, and as a boy Wu Tseng Dong remembers spending days cowering in shelters.
“It was really scary,” he says. “War isn’t like in the movies, you know. It’s very cruel.”
He snaps a cigarette lighter, to start up a welding flame and carves a piece off a shell. Fifteen minutes later, he’s crafted a shining cooking knife, then tongue in cheek, he inscribes the blade with the words: War and Peace, with love from Mao Tse Tung.
“Should China say sorry?” I asked.
He pulled his protective glasses onto his forehead and eyed me strangely. “Why? If they say sorry, we have to say sorry. It was war. It’s time to move on and work together.”
There was a bustle of activity from the store, as two tour buses drew up, packed with Chinese tourists from the mainland, who were quickly queuing up to buy Maestro Wu’s knives.
At Kinmen’s small, modern airport, the TV screen showed unrest in Kosovo and more bombings in Iraq. Why has
Before boarding the plane to the capital
“So a new war,” I ventured, “would bring the world’s computer supplies to a standstill?”
“That’s right,” he said and as we played out the scenario of gadgets not being made, communications ruptured, international supply chains severed, it made the banking Sub Prime crash look like a mere ripple.
The issue that
But the added twist, is that America – backed incidentally by Britain – chose to intervene in Taiwan’s democracy by describing the referendum as ‘provocative’ and calling for Taiwan to cancel it. And that has prompted utter fury.
“They’re praising the people of Iraq for going to the polls,” argues Bi-Khim Hisao of the DPP. “Yet at the same time condemning us for offering a vote to our people on whether they want to be part of the international community. Let’s remember here,
No-one expects Taiwan to declare independence soon. The referendum was only a marker for the long-term future. Given that and the near-impossibility of any conflict breaking out, why has
“China’s being very clever,” explained Dr Chong Pin-Ling an expert on the China-Taiwan relationship. “It’s convincing Washington,
“Oh yes. China decided that years back.”