Wed, Apr 27, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Beijing can't buy Taiwan's people

As expected, pan-blue and pan-green camp supporters clashed at CKS International Airport yesterday when Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) departed on his visit to China, where he will meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤). The bloody clashes showed that Lien's "peace visit" lost its peacefulness even before he left the country.

Many Taiwanese -- especially pan-green camp supporters -- object to Lien's visit. One reason is Lien's bad timing: his trip comes shortly after China passed its "Anti-Secession" Law authorizing force against Taiwan. But the heart of the problem is that Lien is meeting with a Chinese Communist Party bureaucrat who once ruthlessly suppressed the Tibetan people, and who now perpetuates a one-party dictatorship, tramples on human rights and suppresses religious freedoms. The fact that Lien will sit down to talk with a man who has the blood of his own people on his hands is frightening and unsettling to many people in Taiwan.

Pan-green camp supporters are furious that Lien should visit China without even dignifying President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) with a visit before leaving. They also worry that Lien will do whatever he can to join hands with China and manipulate Taiwanese elections so that the KMT can regain its hold on power. There is a lot of Chinese government money at work behind the scenes at several Taiwanese newspapers and TV stations. People have already been angered by the outrageous reports in such China-funded media outlets supporting the pan-blue camp and smearing the pan-green camp at election time.

Just as the Chinese government is searching for a way to proceed toward its goal of unification, and looking for someone who can act as their spokesman here, leaders of Taiwan's opposition parties have thrown themselves into China's embrace. They could become Beijing's mouthpieces, who -- through the abuse of Taiwan's cherished freedom of the press -- will seek to undermine the democratic institutions Taiwan has established with so much difficulty, and drag the country into a bog of political and social division. Faced with this prospect, it's not surprising that many Taiwanese have been so vocal in their calls that Lien not sell out his country.

Pan-blue camp supporters say that Lien will be talking to Hu about China's purchase of Taiwan's agricultural products, greater protection for the lives and property of Taiwanese businesspeople in China and even the withdrawal of missiles currently targeted at Taiwan. But these issues are not the chief cause of Taiwan's deep-rooted resentment of China's power. That animosity stems from China's rejection of democracy, which has put an unbridgeable gulf between the lifestyles and social systems of the two peoples on either side of the Taiwan Strait. Even if Beijing did agree to withdraw its missiles, the majority of the Taiwanese people would still not agree to unify with China.

Taiwan has experienced the oppressive government of the Japanese colonial regime and that of the KMT. What they value more than anything else is the freedom to live as they choose, guaranteed by a democratic system whose liberties can be ranked with that of any advanced nation in the world.

Yesterday, the people protesting at the airport were defending these cherished universal values. They were making their views plain to Lien, a man who might threaten such values. They are fighting for Taiwan's democracy and freedom and rejecting a slavery that violates human dignity. Even if Beijing is able to buy some of Taiwan's politicians, it will never win over the Taiwanese people.

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