Fri, Mar 05, 2010 - Page 8 News List

Beijing sees culture as a weapon

By J. Michael Cole 寇謐將

The willingness of Taiwanese to engage in more discussions with Chinese, to watch Chinese movies, attend Chinese art expositions (or gaze at pandas) is simply natural curiosity. By no means does this signify, however, that by doing so Taiwanese accept the so-called Chinese nation — by which Beijing means “one China” — or see it as their culture. Quebecers, for example, may show a great deal of interest in a French troupe performing in Quebec City (or Hollywood movies, for that matter), but this does not mean that they “accept” France, or the US, as the seat of their culture.

A better analogy, perhaps, would be that of a Palestinian interested in learning more about Israelis living across the fence by attending discussion groups involving the two people. However high his interest might be, it remains purely academic and under no circumstances would it imply the acceptance that Palestinian land belongs to some Greater Israel.

If Beijing subscribes to the belief that interest in seeing things Chinese means acceptance of its dominion over Taiwan, it is in for a very unpleasant surprise.

Slips like that made by Jia on Wednesday are not infrequent and should serve as a warning to Taiwanese that for Beijing, nothing is sacred, or off limit, in its pursuit of unification.

J. Michael Cole is an editor at the Taipei Times.

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