Sat, May 05, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Fleeing allies garners global support

By Kevin Carrico

The Dominican Republic on Monday announced that it had switched its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China. This is an unfortunate development: Few sights in the world today could be more unfortunate than a democratic nation sacrificing its most basic values for monetary enticements from a dictatorship, even if it is a sight to which all have grown accustomed.

Although this switch leaves Taiwan with only 19 formal diplomatic allies on the global stage, it is a development of no fundamental significance: much ado about nothing.

Many major media outlets are reporting that this further increases Taiwan’s “diplomatic isolation,” but in terms of fundamental values, it is China, and not Taiwan, that is rightly isolated in the expanding community of democratic nations today.

This is because the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is fundamentally illegitimate. It lives in fear of its own people, and in growing conflict with the outside world.

It diverts massive sums of money from its own people to collect diplomatic allies to support the fairy tale that it is a legitimate government and that Taiwan should be placed under its control. This is essentially a face (mianzi, 面子) project: precisely the type of project at which the Chinese Communist Party has excelled since its founding nearly a century ago.

By contrast, the Taiwanese government is fully legitimate. It lives in a dynamic, open and accountable relationship with its people, and is developing in step with the trend of democratization around the world.

Taiwan has, like China, diverted large sums of money to maintain diplomatic allies to avoid perceived isolation, but the rapid disappearance of an increasing number of these allies suggests that competing with Beijing in this realm is pointless.

Instead, Taiwan should recognize that, unlike the PRC government, it has no need to engage in such competitive face projects: It has real sources of legitimacy and authority.

The PRC government’s fundamental illegitimacy drives it to seek legitimacy and authority via the superficial submission of other more legitimate systems of governance to its model, with reliably depressing results.

No matter how much propaganda Beijing might pull together about the supposed success of “one country, two systems,” no sane individual anywhere in the world who knows anything about Hong Kong since 1997 thinks that the territory is better off under Beijing’s control.

Although an increasing number of countries have come to recognize “one China,” no sane individual anywhere in the world who knows anything about Taiwan today could ever be comfortable with the idea of totalitarian China ruling democratic Taiwan.

This is particularly true as the political situation in Beijing has grown ever darker in recent years, increasingly isolating the PRC from broader, global democratic trends. Anyone who visits China today cannot help but notice that it is a dictatorship gradually drifting backward toward a harder form of dictatorship.

As taboo topics proliferate and lawyers, writers, activists and others simply trying to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms are arbitrarily sent away to lengthy prison terms, the nation is denied its most dynamic thinkers, replaced by one volume after another of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) “Thought” with a capital T.

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