Tue, Feb 25, 2003 - Page 8 News List

People need to be aware of the threat from China

By Yan Jiann-fa 顏建發

It has proven difficult for the people of this country to reach a consensus on the advantages and disadvantages of activity across the Taiwan Strait. In a pluralist society, any absolute approval or disapproval will find itself open to criticism.

But Beijing is undoubtedly in a position to lead cross-strait economic activity today. It can, and does, encourage Taiwanese companies and business leaders to relocate to China not only in the interest of economic development but also strategy.

It is for this reason that this country must take national security -- rather than simply the interests of local companies -- into account in cross-strait activity.

China has gradually become more practical and flexible in its handling of Taiwan affairs for the sake of greater political stability and economic prosperity. Taipei should take this shift seriously and come up with measures to counter the vulnerability that result from this flexibility.

Taipei's cautiousness suggests that it has surely realized that Beijing's policy of enticing Taiwanese over to China is already a critical threat to the nation's survival and development. Perhaps the government can now highlight the China threat in a comprehensive and thorough manner, and make clear its own bottom line, so that the public is made fully aware of the risks cross-strait activity involves. This will definitely help this nation reach a strong consensus.

Consider the charter flights to Shanghai during the Lunar New Year holiday. The two sides of the Strait reached an accommodation in which they were no longer entirely opposed to the idea of such flights.

Rather than focus on specific dangers of this linkage, Taiwan itself split into two camps, allowing China to play both ends against the middle.

In response, the government should have made the whole picture clear to the public. Obviously, in the case of the charter flights, the government was under pressure not only from China but also from people who wanted a cheaper and faster family reunion for the holiday and those pushing for direct links.

Beijing has gradually increased its promotion of unification while Taipei has loosened regulations when it comes to certain parts of cross-strait exchange, namely direct links.

Thus, Beijing has constantly pushed ahead while Taipei has given in. In this light, the temporary advantages and disadvantages of the situation become quite apparent.

Beijing will continue to keep the ball in its court, defeating Taipei one point at a time, keeping the pressure on.

The problem is, where exactly is the limit of this pressure? What is the government's bottom line? When will China cross this bottom line, causing a rupture that leads to "game over" for Taiwan?

Will the steady pressure get out of control, causing the nation to abandon itself, or even the international community to abandon its promise to maintain peace and security across the Strait?

The nation's leaders must face this pressure and draw out the whole picture for all to see -- the public, the international community and the Chinese oligarchy and the people over whom they tyrannically rule.

I believe that there is no reason for a frank, sincere government to be blindsided or oppressed, if it's willing to communicate in a rational, humble and practical way.

Yan Jiann-fa is an associate professor in the department of business administration at Ching Yun Institute of Technology.

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