Sun, Feb 20, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: China must not be appeased

According to Friday's edition of The Washington Post, Japan and the US were to declare in a joint agreement that security in the Taiwan Strait is a "common strategic objective." This latest US-Japan joint declaration on security will be tremendously beneficial to the stability of the Taiwan Strait and the rest of East Asia.

We applaud the decision by both of the US and Japan to discard their wishy-washy political stance and clearly express their concern about security across the Taiwan Straight and in Asia. Neither country will now back off in the face of China's growing military capability. We believe that a preventive measure like this one taken by the US and Japan is truly wise. Otherwise, we may see a repeat of what happened with the former Iraqi regime, when after years of appeasing a dictator, the world was forced to respond militarily when Saddam Hussein rolled his tanks into neighboring Kuwait.

It is common knowledge that Beijing in recent years has been constantly increasing its arsenal. Military expenditure has seen annual double-digit growth, spent in part on the development of long-distance missiles and fighter planes. This trend poses a serious threat to the security of US military bases in the Asia-Pacific region. Furthermore, Chinese ships have entered Japan's territorial waters under various pretexts. Beijing is also forcefully developing oil fields in the East China Sea, while indulging North Korea and Pakistan and even helping Iran develop nuclear arms. All this is worrying the US and Japan.

Beijing has deployed more than 600 missiles aimed at Taiwan, a number that is constantly increasing. Such military threats will only increase cross-strait tension. Repeated requests by the US, Japan and Taiwan to preserve peace in the Taiwan Strait have gone unheeded. In March 1996, the People's Liberation Army test-fired missiles in the waters off Taiwan. This violent attempt to influence Taiwan's first direct presidential election clearly showed the world that China is not issuing empty threats.

The history of Eastern Europe shows us that communist regimes such as China's will not hesitate to use military means to get what they want. Such regimes are built upon a foundation of tyrannical government that thinks nothing of trampling on human rights and brutally suppressing dissent. China's economic development may present the illusion of great prosperity in the cities. But there are still 900 million inhabitants living lives of abject poverty in the countryside -- a fact that has been made abundantly clear in A Survey of Chinese Peasants by Chen Guidi (陳桂棣) and Wu Chuntao (吳春桃), which won the Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage last year. Under the current communist regime, China is certainly not going to become the "peaceful giant" that some Western commentators have suggested.

We are delighted to see that the US and Japan have acted decisively on the issue of regional security and have made their determination to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait clear to Beijing. Previous hesitation and lack of clarity in the policies of both countries has given little incentive for Beijing to restrain itself, for it gave the impression of timidity and appeasement.

With the National People's Congress scheduled to open on March 5, the passage of the "anti-secession" law will make unilateral changes to the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. The US and Japan therefore have no choice but to harden their attitude and make security in the Strait a "common strategic objective." Only in this way can they prevent rash action by Beijing, and gradually stabilize an increasingly volatile situation.

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