Thu, Jun 16, 2005 - Page 8 News List

China should give in to freedom

By William Stimson

How strange that China should be undertaking such a huge military buildup, and conducting so much of it in a clandestine fashion. One wonders who it perceives to be its enemy when the whole world benefits from its new prosperity, welcomes it with open arms, scrambles to invest in its future and wants "in" on its economic miracle. Schoolchild-ren the world over are learning Mandarin. Everybody knows China is the future.

"Nobody is going to attack China," stammers the US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, apparently at a loss to understand why it is hurrying to arm itself.

Across the water from China sits peaceful little Taiwan, with its bustling democracy and free market economy -- the major engine of China's growth. How many other developing countries wish they had a Taiwan off their shore. It would be hard to calculate the extent to which Taiwan benefits China day in and day out.

How strange then that following Taiwan's disastrous earthquake a few years back, China prevented emergency relief from being flown to Taiwan over Chinese territory. At the height of the SARS episode, China blocked Taiwan's entry into the World Health Organization. A bird flu disaster looms in the region, but China continues to block Taiwan's entry into the health body.

Again and again, Taiwan has said it wants peaceful relations with China. Yet Beijing now has hundreds of missiles aimed at Taiwan. Can anyone doubt that the armada of modern ships, submarines and airplanes that China is currently amassing at such a breakneck pace is for use against Taiwan?

Every day the stories that come out of China get stranger. Recently a Chinese journalist who wrote against corruption and won an award for his probity was beaten and had some fingers hacked off. That writer will never type again. Another received a long prison sentence, just for sending an e-mail.

The Internet in China is tightly controlled. Yet no sooner did Japan announce it would come to Taiwan's assistance in the event of a Chinese attack than an anti-Japanese movement easily organized itself on China's Internet, sent out all the e-mails it wanted and staged riots across the country.

Chinese police stood idly by as demonstrators smashed Japanese property. What was it all about?

The excuse about Japan's offenses during World War II would be more believable if China hadn't itself committed those same offenses in Tibet. The excuse about the Japanese textbooks would be believable if China's textbooks didn't still omit the truth about Tibet and about Tiananmen Square. The excuse about the Japanese leader paying homage to an offensive shrine would be believable if Mao Zedong's (毛澤東) picture wasn't still prominently displayed as an object of reverence in Beijing.

Japan's commitment to defend Taiwan was the reason behind China's temper tantrum.

China has not only probed Japanese waters with its submarines but is probing weaknesses in the defense system of the US, Taiwan's chief protector. "We are smarter than you!" Chinese sites brag to the Americans. On Sept. 11, 2001, Chinese sites expressed glee over pictures of the burning towers in New York City. Earlier this year, sites in China likened the visiting US secretary of state to a "monkey" because of her African ancestry and called her "stupid." None of this was censored.

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