Sat, Sep 01, 2018 - Page 8 News List

China’s vast wealth luring nations

By Joseph Bosco

However, the ROC strongly supported Mandela’s presidential campaign, as Beijing threw its lot in with a rival to Mandela’s African National Congress.

Once he was elected in 1995, Mandela vowed that South Africa, the last major country still to recognize Taiwan, would continue to do so. He prided himself on being seen as a model to the world’s underdogs and he had developed an empathy for Taiwan. For two years he resisted Chinese pressures to cut ties with Taiwan.

However, the nation’s economic woes, after decades of apartheid rule, simply left no viable alternative to Beijing’s largesse and Mandela had to make a moral choice in the interests of the South Africans.

In 1997, in what he described as an “agonizing” decision, he did what outsiders long had seen as inevitable and severed official relations with Taiwan, though he made the change effective a year later to allow Taiwan time to adjust — a courtesy then-US president Jimmy Carter did not accord Taiwan in 1979.

Years later, Mandela expressed his pain at having been compelled to abandon Taiwan. After his death in 2013, Taiwan’s government mourned his loss and lauded his record as a driving force for freedom, justice, human rights and reconciliation.

Forcing one of the world’s moral icons to knuckle under for the sake of money no doubt was a signal achievement for China’s communist leaders. The Chinese people may not feel the same sense of pride.

Joseph Bosco served as China country director in the office of the US secretary of defense and taught a graduate seminar on US-China-Taiwan relations at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He is a fellow at the Institute for Taiwan-American Studies. This article originally appeared in The Hill on Aug. 28.

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