So long as the CCP cannot acknowledge this truth, it will remain guilty of the charge that its desire to preserve “stability” is really only a desire to preserve power for itself.
Despite China’s enormous economic power and military strength, much smaller Taiwan is still a far greater success story. Taiwan’s transition from poverty to prosperity was also accompanied by an equally remarkable transition from dictatorship to democracy.
Despite all of its evident problems, of which no country is free, Taiwan still stands as the only fully free, democratic, and pluralistic Chinese society on Earth. As China eventually comes to terms with its past, so too should it look to Taiwan as model for its future.
The 25th Anniversary of Tiananmen is also an appropriate occasion for Taiwan and the US to reflect on the failings of their respective policies toward China.
After all, it was just after Tiananmen, when the flow of Western visitors ceased, that Taiwanese tourists and businesspeople rushed to the mainland to get discounted hotel prices and seize business opportunities.
Taiwan — along with Hong Kong — was therefore in the vanguard of initiating the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) economic miracle with hundreds of billions of dollars in investments, business know-how and technology.
And it is Taiwan that continues on this same course to this day, even though economic data indicate it is a path producing diminishing returns as China increasingly competes in producing the high-tech products in which Taiwan has excelled.
It is Taiwan, along with the US and the West, which helped build the contemporary China that aims missiles at Taiwan, claims the entire South China Sea as well as Taiwan as its territory, steals Taiwan’s military and industrial secrets, and aims to give the people of Taiwan the benefits of being governed by the CCP.
The past few years of Hong Kong’s experience with “one country, two systems” should be more than sufficient evidence of how well that works.
Taiwan nonetheless shows little inclination or ability to alter the course on which it is set.
Some are motivated by preference, others by the belief that they have no other choice and others only drift.
Most simply hope to preserve the status quo (which is changing everyday). Certainly it is also the case that China mostly gives Taiwan no alternative.
Taiwan therefore continues to be incorporated by the mainland.
Meanwhile, Chinese United Front officials freely visit Taiwan, while Taiwan academics who have apparently offended China are denied entry even into Hong Kong.
On this 25th anniversary of Tiananmen, the US should also reflect on its responsibility for helping to create the threats China now poses.
Beginning with World War II, there have been two principal foundations for the US’ relationship with China.
Since President Franklin Roosevelt’s invitation to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) to attend the Cairo Conference in 1943, the first has been the geostrategic argument that a good US relationship with (an ideally democratic) China would stabilize Asia, ensuring peace and prosperity, and help to keep the Chinese and Russian empires from collaborating against US and Western interests.
With the exception of Ronald Reagan, every US president until Clinton relied on this argument.