Thu, Dec 02, 2004 - Page 8 News List


China is not the enemy

Although I generally respect John Tkacik's views on US-China relations, his recent remarks that Taiwan should strengthen its defense before building a new nation ("US analyst urges Taiwan to make defense a priority," Nov. 29, page 4) strike me as ill-advised, if not totally irresponsible.

First, is it a matter of urgency for Taiwan to "build a new nation?" According to the most recent survey by the Mainland Affairs Council, the majority of Taiwanese still seem to prefer the status quo. Taiwanese society remains divided on the issue of spending billions of US dollars on purchasing weapons from the US. The Taiwanese economy is still slowly recovering. For ordinary Taiwanese, there is really no need at this point to rush into building a new nation.

Second, will strengthened defense be enough for Taiwan to "build a new nation?" Apparently Tkacik thinks Mao Zedong's (毛澤東) slogan "political power comes from the barrel of a gun" still works today. What if it does not work now? Tkacik assumes that if Taiwan has sufficient defense capability, it will be able to move toward building a new nation without eliciting a catastrophic military response from China. This represents a naive and dangerous way of thinking. It is well known that China will do anything to prevent the birth of a new Taiwanese nation.

Third, Tkacik suggests that the US will always support "a determined democratic Taiwan." This may not be true either. History shows that the US only supports what accords with its national interests. If the establishment of a new Taiwanese nation is not in the interests of the US (and probably it is not, right now, since it may trigger a war across the Taiwan Strait that will involve the US), then the US may not come to Taiwan's aid even if Taiwan is democratic and determined.

Instead of making defense a priority, Taiwan should probably make improving relations across the Taiwan Strait a priority. The best defense for Taiwan is building bridges with China, not burning them. Instead of treating China as an enemy, the Taiwanese government can take the opportunity of China's rise to shape and influence the development within China. A more prosperous and democratic China with which Taiwan is closely associated will provide the best defense for Taiwan's democracy and way of life.


Assistant Professor, University of Bridgeport, Connecticut

Sisy Chen got it backwards

Talk show host Sisy Chen (陳文茜) recently compared the situation after the election in Taiwan to that in Ukraine. She compared the pan-blue alliance to supporters of Viktor Yuschenko (a pro-Western liberal).

There is no resemblance. Yuschenko and his supporters, mainly from the western part of Ukraine, are active and ready to take the destiny of the country in their own hands. They realize the danger coming from Russia, which still considers Ukraine as its sphere of influence. In this situation, Yuschenko's block is fighting for both democracy and independence. They know that if they want to decide their own future they must be independent from Russia. While the authoritarian tendencies are increasing in Russia, they choose democracy.

The pan-blue block does resemble the supporters of [Prime Minister] Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Moscow candidate: They are still terrified, cannot face the changes, and have not fully developed their identity.

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