During this year’s hot summer, a document was published that perhaps did not receive sufficient attention in Taiwan, where people were preoccupied with a number of domestic issues.
The publication of “Document No. 9” in Beijing was revealed in a New York Times article on Aug. 19 headlined “China takes aim at Western ideas,” by Chris Buckley.
Buckley describes how under Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) Beijing is working hard to eradicate the “seven perils” that endanger the grip of the Chinese Communist Party on society. This campaign against “Western ideas” is actually an extension of Xi’s “Chinese dream.”
Glancing through the list of perils in the document, these perils seem to represent the core values of democracy, freedom and human rights as they are known in the US and Europe. They also represent the values that Taiwanese fought so hard to achieve in their transition to democracy in the 1980s and 1990s.
First on the list is “Western constitutional democracy.” Then follows the promotion of “universal values” of human rights, Western-inspired notions of media independence and civil society, pro-market “neo-
liberalism” and a few others.
So, it seems Xi’s government is determined to totally eradicate these values This runs contrary to the expectations of many that Xi would be a reformer: He seems to be moving China further away from democracy.
What does this mean for Taiwan and its cross-strait policies? What would this mean for Taiwan’s democracy, freedom and human rights if it moved closer to China? It is clear that closer relations with China means Taiwan will lose much of its freedom.
If Taiwan wants to preserve its “status quo” as a free, prosperous and democratic nation, it should keep a safe political, economic and social distance from this China. Yes, Taiwan can and should have contact, communication and consultations with Beijing, but this could be done from a position of strength.
In addition, these contacts should take place with a clear understanding of the direction in which China is heading. If the country is moving in the direction of a freer society, it would be good to stimulate cross-strait communication, but “Document No. 9” makes the ultimate goals of China’s rulers clear. Under these circumstances, Taiwan’s people and government should exercise caution in dealing with Beijing.
Against the backdrop of “Document No. 9,” should Taiwan move toward the service trade agreement with China? Would it be wise to make the Taiwanese economy more dependent on China’s? Should Taipei accept “favors” from Beijing in the international arena, such as its observer status at the WHO or “guest” status at the International Civil Aviation Organization? These favors only cement Taiwan’s token involvement in these organizations at the grace of Beijing under odd titles including “Taiwan, Province of China” or “Chinese Taipei.”
Taiwanese have worked hard for their freedom and democracy. To preserve these achievements, the nation needs to align itself more closely with the democratic neighbors who live by, and respect, the basic values which all free people cherish.
By the same token, if a neighbor does not respect those values, and instead continuously strives to undermine another nation’s sovereignty and dignity, then its people are well-advised to beware.
Nat Bellocchi is a former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan and a special adviser to the Liberty Times Group. The views expressed in this article are his own.
Over the past few years, migrant workers’ rights have improved in Taiwan, but there has not been a comparable improvement in protections for employers, who are faced with a range of challenges, such as family nurses mistreating patients or workers threatening to change brokers or demanding that employers change their jobs. Then there is the decrease in work standards. Migrant workers too often find the lure of the underground jobs market irresistible, are unaware of employment laws and regulations, or have found that National Immigration Agency (NIA) checks are lax, and as a result abscond. If this happens, what protections or
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has been giving daily COVID-19 updates for almost four months, and on several occasions when major developments have arisen, the news conferences have attracted large numbers of viewers. The entire nation is anxious about the pandemic, and interest in the latest news has become a part of daily life. Watching the center’s daily news conferences has become something of a national ritual. The pandemic has stabilized within Taiwan due to the admirable efforts of each person living in the nation conducting themselves with the utmost responsibility, and in certain cases making considerable sacrifices within their
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. In that war’s aftermath, novelist George Orwell produced two prophetic works. The first, Animal Farm, was published in August 1945; the second, Nineteen Eighty-Four, came out in June 1949. Both still ring true and cover a wide range of messages, including even how the mid-sized nation of Taiwan achieved its democracy and why it still maintains an outlier status in a COVID-19 world. With its full planetary scope, WWII left untold millions dead and injured, cities were destroyed and the future path of most nations was altered. New
United States Senator “Kit” Bond (R-MO) was a real leader on Asia policy during his time in Congress. Like most senators, he had a ready one-liner for every occasion. The one I never tired of hearing is “Well, looks like everything has been said. The problem is not everyone has said it.” It’s sort of like with US-China great power competition. There is not much new to say. This is especially true because it’s largely a story of what’s already happened: BRI, Made in China 2025, aggression in the South China Sea, provocations on the Indian border, cyber-hacks, erosion of “one country,