Sun, Feb 20, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Stop the mixed messages on China

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government's cross-strait policy has deteriorated into total chaos lately. On the one hand, when Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) visited the Northern, Central, Southern and Eastern Taiwan societies, the Society of Taiwan University Professors and the Friends of Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) a few days ago, he revealed that Taiwan had lobbied the US, Europe and Japan to express Taiwan's resistance to China's proposed anti-secession legislation, and that preliminary responses were beginning to appear.

In early February, when the US dispatched a specially appointed National Security Council envoy and a high-level State Department official to Beijing, they brought with them a letter from US President George W. Bush to the Chinese leadership. The special envoy also directly stated the US' clear opposition to China's position on Taiwan.

On the other hand, the government has made frequent shows of goodwill toward China. Not only did cross-strait negotiations result in charter flights in both directions across the Taiwan Strait during the Lunar New Year, but at a meeting of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople recently, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) expressed hopes of a cross-strait thaw, a re-opening of cross-strait talks, and a cross-strait cargo transportation plan based on the Lunar New Year charter flights.

The government opposes China's anti-secession legislation, but it is using the charter flights and cargo transportation as a bargaining chip in negotiations over full-blown cross-strait links. This kind of policy thinking is rife with contradictions. Both anti-secession legislation -- China's overt attempt at possession of Taiwan -- and the three direct links -- China's attempt at theft -- are detrimental to the nation. How could it be possible to reject the one while embracing the other?

During the National People's Political Consultative Conference in March, China will try to provide a lawful basis for its ambition to annex Taiwan, which can be used as a tool in its legal war on Taiwan. Although this move on China's part is aimed at Taiwan, it is a naked manifestation of its broader dictatorial thinking and actions. This move has gotten the attention of the international community. In fact, although Taiwan is the main target of China's expanded arms purchases, once China has annexed Taiwan, it will be able to establish a powerful naval presence and develop from being a regional, continental hegemon into becoming a global hegemon, able to project power by land and sea.

Even more worthy of note, following the collapse of the Soviet and East European socialist system, China's is the only remaining one-party, socialist dictatorship among the world's big powers. This huge nation, with its 1.3 billion-strong population, adopted a policy of reform and opening up in 1978. It began working hard to attract foreign capital and businesses in an attempt to use cheap labor and land to become a factory to the world. This deregulation policy has now been around for more than 20 years, and it has indeed improved China's economic strength.

China's increasing economic power, however, has not brought with it political reform. China's ruling elite maintains socialism and the dictatorship of the Communist Party. The seeds of democracy have still not been planted in China, and human rights and freedom remain suppressed. It will be a terrible disaster for the civilized world when a country with such stubborn ideological and nationalist attitudes breaks through Taiwan's democratic defenses and brings its political, economic and military influence to the world.

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