Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sobel Wiki: Maiden Taiwan

This week's featured article on the Sobel Wiki concerns the island nation of Taiwan.

When the Sobel Timeline branched off from our own in 1777, Taiwan was a province of the Chinese Empire. By the 1930s in both timelines, Taiwan had become a Japanese possession. In our world, Japan annexed Taiwan in 1895 after defeating the Chinese in the First Sino-Japanese War. Sobel does not say how Japan acquired Taiwan in For Want of a Nail, but it was presumably done the same way.

In our history, Taiwan was restored to Chinese control after the defeat of Japan in 1945, but in the Sobel Timeline, things aren't nearly so clear-cut. In the Sobel Timeline's analogue to World War II, Japan and China were allies, fighting off invasion attempts by the United States of Mexico and Siberia. Japan was also informally allied with Kramer Associates, the Sobel Timeline's One Big Zaibatsu. As Sobel records, K.A. spent £20 billion subsidizing China's war against the U.S.M. and Siberia, and an equivalent amount in the rest of the Pacific region (i.e. Japan and Australia). Sobel also states that K.A. President John Jackson "had taken Taiwan in 1948," though he doesn't explain how he took it, or who he took it from. It may be that Jackson pressured the Japanese to sell Taiwan to K.A. as compensation for the company's financial support. In any case, the following year, Jackson's successor made Taiwan the company's headquarters, and ordered its industrialization. By the late 1950s, according to published statistics, Taiwan's growth rate reached the twelve percent per annum level.

The price for this phenomenal economic growth is that Taiwan's government is under the control of a world-bestriding corporation. The alt-Sobel who wrote For Want of a Nail in the Sobel Timeline, who has become a Kramer Associates flack, thinks this is a good thing. Those of us who find ourselves living under the control of too-big-to-fail corporations in the real world have reason to know better.

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