Wed, Nov 24, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: China an obstacle to peace

The annual APEC leader's summit ended on Sunday. As usual, Taiwan strictly abided by its status as a member economy and avoided political distur-bances. Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) -- the president's representative -- offered the leaders of 21 economic entities Taiwan's views regarding the avian flu epidemic and the establishment of a regional cooperation mechanism. In doing so, he received praise from all present.

Given Taiwan's current economic strength and in particular its information-technology industry, it is able to offer valuable experience to other states in the Asian-Pacific region. There is ample evidence that they could also learn from Taiwan's health and disease prevention experience. Although last year's SARS epidemic brought unprecedented panic, rapid and effective preventative measures were adopted and Taiwan successfully withstood the difficult test. Lee's suggestion of a vaccine development center was both timely and necessary.

The primary goal of the APEC meetings is to boost the economic prosperity of Pacific-Rim countries. To achieve this, Taiwan has always proposed constructive plans in the APEC's ministerial meetings as well as meetings for business leaders -- despite China's efforts to use such meetings as opportunities to oppress Taiwan internationally.

Taiwanese businesspeople have greatly contributed to China's role as the world's major manufacturing center today. Ever since the government removed most of its restrictions on investment in China in the early 1990s, massive amounts of the nation's capital and technology have been transferred to China, replacing other international capital as the driving force behind that country's rapid economic growth.

In other words, Taiwan has significantly contributed to the improved living standard of Chinese people. It really does not deserve Beijing's hostility.

For example, Beijing has objected to allowing Taiwan's popularly elected president to attend the APEC leaders' meetings. It has not given an inch on this issue. Seen from Taiwan's perspective, this attitude is extremely unreasonable. This sort of intransigence will only further hurt the relationship between people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing's officials managed to enrage Taiwan with their behavior every year, with the result that the forces advocating Taiwan independence continue to gain strength. It is no wonder that the kind of Taiwan consciousness that supports the model of "one country on either side of the Strait" has grown so rapidly. Political relations grow increasingly distant -- but Beijing's wrongheaded policies toward Taipei are solely to blame for this.

Politics and economics are quite separate matters. Last month Taiwan was ranked fourth in terms of the competitiveness of its economy in an assessment by the World Economic Forum. A country with such strong competitiveness is not going to disappear from the international scene simply because it is ignored, boycotted or ostracized by China at international gatherings.

Beijing's continued reluctance to acknowledge Taiwan's existence and open channels of communication through which both sides of the Strait can engage in reasonable and friendly dialogue serves no one. Only through better communication can tensions in the Taiwan Strait be reduced and both sides contribute to developing prosperity and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

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