Thu, Sep 13, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: China wasting its time on bullying

If the stories related by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) during his opening speech to the Taiwan-Africa Progressive Partnership Forum on Monday are to be believed, then Beijing has taken its campaign to suffocate Taiwan in the international community to a new level.

Chen recounted how two members of an opposition party from Lesotho were charged with treason to stop them from attending, proving that China is not only willing to interfere with the internal affairs of other nations in its efforts to squeeze Taiwan, but is also prepared to abuse the human rights of non-Chinese citizens.

Various other delegates were blocked from traveling to Taiwan while transiting via Hong Kong. But most shocking of all, perhaps, was the claim that the French government also tried to help the Chinese campaign of repression by blocking African travelers as they transited in Paris.

While Hong Kong, as a Chinese territory, has a history of such behavior, if the stories about France are true, then the French government has also sunk to a new low and should be denounced.

If any doubt is left in the minds of Taiwanese about how single-minded Beijing is about bringing Taiwan to heel, then this episode should finally dispel it. All those reassurances from Beijing of "concern" for its "Taiwan compatriots" are hogwash; China only cares about annexing Taiwan -- period. These latest examples only further demonstrate the utter vileness of the current Chinese regime and surely vindicate the government's reluctance to deal with what is, in effect, the enemy of all Taiwanese people.

But why would China go to such lengths to prevent a handful of opposition legislators and NGO members from attending the forum? Maybe it is worried that Taiwan's more responsible, partnership-based approach to diplomacy may tempt other African nations to switch allegiance to Taipei. Because despite all the accusations of "dollar diplomacy" from Beijing and domestic critics, the Taipei government -- through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- does make an effort to help its underdeveloped allies in many ways, including healthcare, agricultural development and humanitarian relief.

Of course it also provides cash payments, but it cannot compete with the amounts Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) doled out during his eight-nation visit to the continent in February.

Contrast this with China's destabilizing influence in Africa, which in Sudan has seen Beijing -- with its UN Security Council seat -- protect a vicious regime from UN sanctions in return for access to oil reserves. The Council on Foreign Relations' Web site lists other examples of China stripping African nations of their natural resources in order to feed its ravenous economy, often in return for arms.

Just think of the good China could do if it channeled all the time, money and resources it wastes trying to belittle Taiwan at every juncture into positive help for its African allies.

But then, if China treated its African allies with a little more respect, maybe some of them would not want to travel to Taipei in the first place.

China may have only one thing on its mind when it comes to Taiwan, but each time it behaves in such a belligerent and unconscionable manner, it repels the Taiwanese people. China will sooner or later have to face the fact that any amount of bullying will never change the minds of the majority in Taiwan, who see the nation as independent -- whether as Taiwan or the Republic of China.

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