Sun, Nov 20, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan a bastion of core US values

By William Stimson

It has been suggested that the US should stop defending democratic Taiwan from China’s military in return for the cancelation of the US$1.14 trillion in US debt that Beijing holds. That so harebrained a scheme made it onto the op-ed page of the New York Times on Nov. 10 shows that there are those who subscribe wholeheartedly to the myth that with China looming ever larger on the horizon, Taiwan is assuming less of a strategic importance. Nothing could be further from the truth.

That China is on course to becoming a superpower is not the issue at all. The issue is that if this super-powerful China of tomorrow thinks and acts anywhere near the way it does today, it is on a collision course with the interests of the rest of the world — and, as we are already beginning to see today, in such a situation the rest of the world could very easily come out the loser.

China does not play by the same rules as everybody else. It cheats on everything, bullies everybody and demands that everyone accept the lies it peddles as truth.

Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) languishes in jail — as do many of China’s noblest spirits who have dared to fight illegally polluted lakes, censorship, official corruption, and the like.

The line we hear from China’s leaders, not too different from that uttered by dictators everywhere, is that these reformers and protesters are seeking to impose alien ideas and norms that have no place in Chinese society or culture. Taiwan’s existence as a free-market economy, thriving democracy and two-party political system — a sovereign and independent Chinese republic whose people enjoy all the basic human rights and freedoms as those who live in the US or Western Europe — demonstrates that the rhetoric of the Chinese Communist Party is a lie and points the way for an alternative approach to the development of China. For this reason, Taiwan matters.

It is very much in the world’s and in the US’ strategic interest to protect Taiwan’s right to determine its own destiny. Whether Taiwan becomes part of China or not is much less important than ensuring any such decision is made by Taiwanese alone. This is a scenario that China fears even more than Taiwanese independence — that an example might be made and the idea might spread to the far-flung corners of the People’s Republic of China — that power can, should and deserves to come from the people themselves. This is an idea that needs to be embraced if the culture, economy and political system of a future Chinese superpower is to more closely resembles that of a global leader. Only then can Beijing hope to be a partner and friend to the US rather than simply a more powerful, selfish and conniving adversary than it is today.

In this scenario Taiwan’s strategic importance is out of all proportion to its size and the marginal international role it plays today. Like a catalyst, Taiwan has the power to change everything around it.

In this context, the idea of ditching Taiwan for money is absurd. By allowing the idea to be aired in a public forum, the New York Times did us all a wonderful service by showing the festering depths of economic determinism that have corrupted the US.

Were the US to ditch Taiwan, it would be ditching just about the only thing it has left — its core values. Because of the narrow-minded focus on material gain on the part of more than a few, the US has already ditched its own economic future and that of the free world, not to mention the future of the promising young men and women pouring out of its universities and universities everywhere. It has thrown away jobs and with them its competitive edge in so many manufacturing technologies, and even done away with the pretense that it is a real democracy, as the bankers it bailed out spend billions of dollars of public money handed over meekly by elected officials in pursuit of their own selfish interests.

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