Thu, Jan 01, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Biding time and sharpening claws

By Li Thian-hok 李天福

While Washington is absorbed with the financial debacle, a deepening recession and wars in the Middle East, there is a gathering crisis in Taiwan.

Under the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) government’s policy of rapid economic, cultural and political integration with China, the nation could be annexed by China within the next few years through the signing of a “peace accord,” internal subversion orchestrated by Beijing, or a Chinese invasion of Taiwan to which the Ma government will acquiesce.

Whether or not Taiwan preserves its democracy and a separate existence from China has real consequences, not just for Taiwanese but also for the Chinese, the Japanese and the Americans.

Taiwan’s history is about the struggle for liberty against alien rule. Taiwan’s democracy, which is regressing to the White Terror era, was won through the sacrifices of tens of thousands of people, including those who perished in the 228 Incident and dissidents who were executed or imprisoned during martial law.

It would be most unfortunate if the Taiwanese failed to protect their hard-won freedom and lost their homeland to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Under CCP rule, the Taiwanese would forfeit their right to life, liberty and property.

Since its invasion of Tibet, China has caused the death of 1.25 million Tibetans, or 25 percent of the population, through massacres and starvation.

Even if just 2.5 percent of Taiwanese were to lose their lives in the process of annexation, the number of deaths would exceed 500,000. Land and real estate would surely be confiscated and freedom of speech, assembly and religion denied. The standard of living would deteriorate as Taiwan’s higher per capita income plunges toward equilibrium with China.

For nationalistic Chinese, the unification of Taiwan would bring a short-term sense of euphoria. But in the long run the annexation of Taiwan would result in national calamity and even the demise of China.

China is at a crossroads in history. It could seek to become a responsible stakeholder in a civilized world and a democratic nation respectful of human rights and the rule of law. This is the goal of Charter 2008 that was initially signed by more than 300 dissidents. Alternatively, China could follow the path laid out by President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and the CCP leadership: pursue ever greater economic wealth and military power, with the aim of achieving hegemony over Asia and ultimately of challenging and replacing the US’ dominant position in the world.

If China conquers Taiwan, which possesses advanced IT and other industries, and a highly literate and industrious population, China’s economic development will receive a significant boost. Taiwan will also provide the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) naval and air forces with valuable bases from which to project their power into the western Pacific and to control sea lanes and airspace that are vital to the survival of Japan and South Korea. The acquisition of Taiwan will thus propel China toward expansionism and eventual conflict with Japan and the US.

The fall of Taiwan would be a harbinger of ultimate disaster and ruin for the people of China.

What about the Japanese? Japan would certainly lose confidence in the credibility of the US-Japan military alliance.

The nuclear umbrella is actually a myth. It is inconceivable that any US administration would sacrifice Los Angeles or Washington to protect Tokyo. Japan will be faced with an unpalatable choice: go nuclear or become a protectorate of China.

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