Tue, Jun 28, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Face up to the risks

By Stephen Carter

Taiwan faces three security risks over the next four to five years. The first and least plausible risk is a contagion from China spreading to Taiwan. This is likely unavoidable over the long term, given the undeveloped, idiosyncratic nature of Chinese agriculture. The government's response has been to complain about its exclusion from the UN's World Health Organization. Yet is it reasonable to expect anything from the UN, an institution that long ago ceased being a progressive, transparent or ethical world body?

Taiwan could be forming working health-care partnerships with friendly states. It could be offering to share resources, research results and SARS data. Go the rounds and do it even if it's only one-way. Eventually other states will be shamed into reciprocating. Just work around China and the UN. It's completely consistent that the UN would strike an under-the-table deal with China. That's what the UN does.

The second risk is China's threat of a "non-peaceful" invasion. Beijing's belligerence appears to be on the wane, largely because Taiwan is apparently moving toward surrender and unification. The nation's democratic institutions are in retreat: the legislature is gridlocked, opposition parties treat judicial decisions with contempt, budget allocations are made at the last minute, if at all and legislation languishes, while the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) refuses any additional legislative sessions. The nation's business is grinding to a halt.

It seems like Taiwan has subconsciously already surrendered. Accordingly, the threat of war has receded. Or has it?

The third and by far most plausible risk is China's imminent economic and political collapse. I have no idea why so many are in denial about this, Taiwanese and foreigners alike. Spend some time at the Web site theepochtimes.com, in the "Nine Commentaries" section. A sober consideration of the evidence gathered there leads to the conclusion that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is in its death throes. Tens of thousands of CCP members have resigned their membership in recent months.

The mainstream media is missing another gathering storm, a major story that's unfolding behind the scenes. But likely not for long. The evidence is simply the ongoing reality that is China today. Not only has the Chinese regime not liberalized, the political system has in fact become more brittle and less responsive since President Hu Jintao's (胡錦濤) accession. None of the social and institutional problems facing China have been adequately addressed: repairing the finances of central, provincial and local governments, recapitalizing the banks, refinancing social security and beginning a cleanup of the world's most degraded environment. The regime's war on corruption and lawlessness was quietly abandoned earlier this year.

Other problems include the failure to replace primitive agricultural policies, the stalling of state-owned enterprise reform and accelerating unemployment. Basic services like education and health care are not being restored for hundreds of millions in the countryside. Protests escalate, in frequency and intensity. The problems just grow steadily worse.

Financially, when China's economy implodes, the tens of billions of US dollars invested in China by Taiwanese businesses will be erased overnight. It will be one of the largest, swiftest meltdowns of financial assets in history. Many Taiwanese residing in China, after being charged with spying, will vanish into that state's gulag. A post-crash human rights inferno in China will have convulsions that reach Taiwan, and beyond.

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