2017年12月15日 星期五

This Means War

It all began innocently enough.  The President of Taiwan was being interviewed by a reporter, when she referred to Mainland China's missile capability as "unimpressive."  No one thought anything of it at the time, but by the time the news filtered back to China it had become a BIG problem.

"What is she talking about?" the Chinese wondered aloud.  "Unimpressive?  Our missiles are unimpressive?  Why I'll have her know that our wives think our missiles are VERY impressive!  They're long, they're wide, and they're effective at close range!  Our wives and girlfriends say this every day!"

Tensions simmered across the Taiwan Strait for months afterward.  Of course the President of Taiwan offered an apology, implying that "bigger wasn't always better," but the Chinese were having none of it.  Their feelings were hurt, and they took every opportunity to insult Taiwan's President through the press.  "She doesn't know what she's talking about," they said, "China's missiles stand erect, and ready to meet any threat!"

By June of the following year, the Chinese had perfected the Long Dong, their newest long range missile.  The Long Dong was a projectile exceeding anything in Taiwan's arsenal, even the longer missiles sold to Taiwan by the Americans.  It stood proud and tall over the soldiers who presented it to the public, and cast a shadow all the way over the Taiwan Strait.  "Now that's a BIG missile!" said people in Taiwan, "...but how should we respond?  Should we build one even bigger?  We're sure not going down on our knees before that thing!"

The President of Taiwan convened an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.  "What are our options here?" she said to those assembled, "The Chinese Long Dong is indeed very formidable.  One might even say impressive!"

The Taiwanese generals talked it over, and in the end came up with a solution.  "We've got it!" they said, "We know what to do!  We'll sneak people into China to make fun of the Long Dong, and after that they'll be too embarrassed to use it!"

So a month later several Taiwanese saboteurs snuck into China as part of a trade conference, an official-type thing where they pretended to be "Chinese Taipei."  They checked into their hotel, they acted very businesslike, and in the dead of night they snuck away to the airbase where the Long Dong was kept, switching into Chinese military uniforms soon after.

The next day some of the Chinese generals came out to admire their newest missile.  The Long Dong stood high above them, straight and tall, and visible for miles around.  "Now that's one hell of a big missile," they congratulated each other, "Satisfyingly long, and seriously impressive."

Little did they know that a few of their number were not members of the Mainland military, but rather Taiwanese infiltrators.  "I'm not sure," said a voice from the back of the group.  Don't you think it looks kind of weird?"

The Chinese generals were taken aback at this slander, and turned to one another in disbelief.  "What?" one of them said, "Who said that?  What do you mean 'looks weird?'"

The Taiwanese saboteur who had spoken took a moment to respond, readying a cyanide pill in case his true identity was discovered.  "I'm just saying, you know, it looks kind of weird.  Not so much like a missile should look.  Kind of... unnatural, really.  More like something you would use - or buy - if your normal missile wasn't functioning properly."

"WHAT?!?!" the Chinese generals gasped, "But our wives say this missile is perfect!  They say it looks VERY natural!  How can you say this about the Long Dong?  It's the object of our national pride!  And now that I think about it, some of your faces are unfamiliar!  I think you might be Taiwanese spies!"

"That may well be," said the Taiwanese saboteurs, but your Long Dong still looks weird to us.  It's so unattractive!"

And with that the Taiwanese infiltrators swallowed their cyanide pills.  They all dropped dead seconds later.

Months of silence followed.  When asked about their newest missile, the Chinese military appeared very confident, but there seemed to be doubts as to its efficacy.  Certain members of the People's Liberation Army voiced concerns that the missile was "unnatural" or even "looked weird."  It was clear that the Mainland was putting a brave face on things, and that they still hadn't addressed the Taiwanese President's complaint that their missiles were "unimpressive."

Later still, a Cross-Strait Security Conference was convened in Malaysia.  Taiwan's President was in attendance, along with the senior members of China's government.  At a certain point the subject of missile capability came up, and the President of Taiwan was asked if she still thought China's missiles were "unimpressive."

"Well," she said, "The Long Dong is certainly BIG, but don't you guys think it looks kind of weird?"

The Mainland Chinese delegation erupted into chaos, and many people started shouting.  "You better shut your mouth!" one of the Chinese delegates said, "We'll show you!  This means war!"

The representatives from the People's Republic of China emphasized their threat by storming out of the conference, leaving the Taiwanese delegates understandably confused.  The Taiwanese President was speechless, but she regained her composure after her aides assured her that all would be well, and that they had nothing to worry about.

"But what do you mean?" she said, "That missile will kill thousands!"

"Trust us," her aides assured her, "Everything will be fine."

The President and her team returned to Taiwan.  Newspapers on the island predicted a catastrophic military response from the Chinese, and the Taiwanese public grew very worried.

The Chinese, meanwhile, were readying the Long Dong for launch.  Taipei was their obvious target, and the Mainland generals gloated over the revenge that would soon be theirs.  "Unimpressive?  Ha, what did she know!  Weird-looking?  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

"Yes," they said among themselves, "This will fix them good!"

But as they stood there, behind their bunker walls, they couldn't help but take a closer look at the Long Dong.  Some, even then, whispered that it might not be impressive enough to prove China's missile capability.  Some, even then, whispered that it did indeed look weird.  And why was it taking so long to get the missile ready?  Wasn't Taiwan just asking for it?  Shouldn't the Long Dong have been ready, long ago?

The generals asked the technicians to hurry, and in their haste they entered the wrong launch codes, so that the Long Dong took flight prematurely.  They watched as their missile sailed away at the wrong angle, headed for who knew where.

"It's not our fault," the technicians said, "We were too excited, and we've been really stressed from work.  We've got all these things on our minds you know... and we really could have used some encouragement.  Not so much pressure.  We're only men, after all."

Homing in on the wrong coordinates, the Long Dong flew directly into the Taiwan Strait.  China's much-lauded projectile didn't even detonate.  The Taiwanese military, who'd been following the entire thing via satellites, raised a collective cheer.  

At the same time the generals in China could only hang their heads in shame.  It seemed to them that the President of Taiwan had been right after all.  Their missile capability really had been unimpressive, and the Long Dong had been a weird-looking failure.  Sure, they had plenty of other missiles to launch, but after that failed first attempt they just weren't in the mood.

"Don't worry about it too much," the President of Taiwan told her counterpart in Beijing over the phone.  "A lot of countries have this problem.  You just need to relax next time.  And we can always talk things out, you know?  

"Having a big missile is great, but it's not the only thing.  In any relationship, personal or political, communication is important, too."

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