Tue, Jul 31, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Making Taiwan's own fate

The growing global unease over safety of Chinese goods culminated in a lengthy article in the July 23 issue of Business Week that attempted to offer a broad yet penetrating look at the background behind the hoopla.

Days later, the EU -- following Washington's lead -- resolved to frown on President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) bid to apply for UN membership under the name of "Taiwan."

The conclusion of the Business Week article is that halting China's shoddy practices on both products and environment would require nothing short of dismantling the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). That's remarkable considering that the article refrained from delving into the more insidious exploitation the vast majority of the Chinese people suffer at the hands of a relative few.

The assertion that the main culprit here is the lack of checks-and-balances that democracy can provide only goes to reinforce the case against Beijing's wishful premise that the liberation of the economy doesn't necessitate a likewise loosening of shackles on political freedom.

To identify where the steaming colossal ship of China's economy has sprung a serious leak in a thoroughly corroded hull, the article zooms in on Beijing's failure to convey its authority to the local levels, where laws are routinely ignored in the name of prosperity and -- more often than not -- personal greed.

That ought to surprise no one considering that some 3 million CCP members -- a burgeoning rank compared to practically none only a few years ago -- engage in private enterprises. In other words, by and large, the CCP today is collaborating with foreign commercial interests to milk not only China's manpower but also its environment.

Contrasting to the glowing accounts China's economy routinely received in the last few years, a new picture seems to emerge from the latest vetting of China's two-decade-old head-first plunge into capitalism. It's a picture of plundering of natural resources, of ravaging of environment, of looming eco-crises, of disruption of social fabrics and of "endemic corruption."

The CCP is brutal and efficient at controlling the general Chinese public but would seem to turn into jelly when dealing with its own rank and file, save for instances when the application of the rule of law becomes the tool of choice as well as a cover for a power struggle. After all, the CCP members comprise the core support of the party. It then follows that some vital issues -- including the environment and the safety of food and drugs, if they were hurting CCP members' pocket books -- would never be adequately addressed.

As a consequence, manufacturers of goods, both domestic and international, have no compunction about dumping undesirable substances into China's water, soil and air. Practices shunned in many parts of the world are commonplace in China.

The CCP, ever since its inception, made redress of China's humiliation at the hands of foreign colonialist powers one of its paramount goals.

There is then no shortage of irony if the CCP might have inadvertently brought another form of colonialism on China in the guise of international commerce.

The devastation to China's society, if unchecked, could easily recall the pre-Opium War era with one exception.

This time around, the well-stocked Chinese national coffers afford amassing an increasingly impressive array of military hardware that bodes badly for a likely confrontation with the West. No matter how China would fare in the eventual showdown, it would once again plunge the country to the bottom of its historically destined cyclical fortune.

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