Why give China arms?
The boundless hypocrisy and craven amorality exhibited by some EU member nations, such as France and Germany, in their quest to peddle arms to the corrupt autocrats in Beijing shows these governments' "principled" opposition to the US' invasion of Iraq to be as deceptive as it was futile.
How can an organization claiming to represent the enlightened values of liberal democracy and humanitarianism contemplate hawking some of the world's most sophisticated weaponry to authoritarian China, a country which has time and time again sworn that it would unify with Taiwan -- a democratic nation bound by the rule of law -- in a bloody military invasion, if necessary?
The EU's emphasis on the kind of "soft power" so often disparaged by the current US administration is not an excuse to disregard entirely the "hard power" consequences of its economic actions.
Although it sounds quite pretty to talk about "changing China from within" or "engaging with Beijing" in order to cement its membership in the "global community," the truth is that China is a dangerous, expansionist power whose government acts without accountability to its people, and which actively promotes the kind of nationalistic fervor -- tinged with ideas of racial superiority and destiny -- that plunged Europe into two World Wars.
I fervently hope that the EU will not lift the arms embargo against China. But unfortunately, I am all too aware that the economic draw of the growing Chinese hegemon and its attendant short-term profitability will subsume all considerations of principle.
But what some EU member states do not seem to recognize is that by selling arms to Beijing, they are increasing the likelihood that one day they may have to watch as a democratic state and its people are consumed by the scourge of war.
Such a conflict could very quickly widen into a devastating affair involving the entire region, if not the world.
Luckily, the EU already has a long record of wringing its hands in despair as atrocities continue unchecked, while its diplomats talk and its leaders vacillate.
It may very well need all of the practice it can get.
US not getting the picture
Since the legislative election on Dec. 11 we have seen absolutely no indication from the pan-blues of an about-face over their rejection of the NT$610 billion arms budget.
After years of thinking that the pan-greens are dangerous hotheads who will cause trouble with China while the blues are for the status quo and cross strait dialogue, the White House just can't understand that the sides have changed. It is the greens that want the status quo of de facto independence and the blues that want capitulation to China.
US criticism of Chen Shui-bian in the last two weeks of the election campaign probably helped the blues to victory, a victory that was absolutely not in the US' strategic interest.
When, a century hence, the history is written of the end of US power in the Western Pacific, the White House's action in the runup to the Taiwan elections of December 2004 will be cited as the tipping point.