Fri, May 30, 2003 - Page 8 News List

China's contemptible behavior only typical

By Lin Wen-cheng 林文程

The SARS epidemic originated in China. It has spread to many countries, not only leading to international economic losses amounting to tens of billions of US dollars, but also causing many deaths and broken homes. Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, all ethnic Chinese societies, have too much interaction with China and have therefore suffered particularly severe losses.

Even if the epidemic is quickly contained, the Taiwanese economy may still suffer economic losses in excess of NT$100 billion. If it can't be quickly contained, those losses will be even heavier. The functioning of Taiwanese society, human interaction, daily life and international contacts have already been deeply affected. The value of such intangible losses is difficult to estimate.

The main reason why this epidemic has created such a serious disaster is China's confused bureaucracy, fighting to gain credit for some things while shifting the blame for others and presenting a falsely positive picture of the situation. The deeper reason, however, is that China has never understood that human life is invaluable. The SARS epidemic erupted in Guangdong Province as early as November last year, just as the Communist Party of China was convening its 16th National Congress.

For political reasons, the epidemic was covered up. Even after the epidemic began to spread, China continued to make false announcements to the world. This wasted precious time, making it difficult to control the spread of the epidemic.

From the moment communist power was established in China, its history has been one of trampled-upon human rights and killings. During the Korean War, when China helped North Korea fight the US, the number of Chinese deaths was more than 10 times those of the US army, but, to this day, China still claims to have won the war. In 1979, China started a punitive war against Vietnam, a war that resulted in heavier casualties for China than for Vietnam. Still, China claimed to have taught Vietman a lesson.

Over the past 50 years, China has seen an uninterrupted succession of political movements large and small, each accompanied by a large death toll. Each of the "three evils," "five evils" and "anti-rightist" campaigns in the 1950s led to millions of deaths, and the woefully misguided policies of the Great Leap Forward, also in the 1950s, led to more than 30 million deaths from starvation. Countless people died unjust deaths in the armed struggles during the 10-year-long disaster that began with the onset of the Cultural Revolution in 1966.

Other smaller incidents, such as the persecution of members of the democracy movement, the bloodbath on Tiananmen Square in 1989, the suppression of the Tibet uprising, or the persecution of Falun Gong members, are too numerous to list. Such a government does, of course, not understand how precious and invaluable human life is. It will also have difficulties understanding its responsibilities towards the international community.

More than 20 years of economic reforms and more than 10 years of reorganizing the army and streamlining its weapons arsenal have led to a quadrupling of China's economic strength, and an increase in military strength. What's more, China is constantly repeating the mantra that it is meeting its international obligations and building a new economic order in accordance with international standards.

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