On Dec. 19 last year, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Liu Jieyi (劉結一) was interviewed by the People’s Daily. Despite failure in addressing ongoing demonstrations in Hong Kong, Liu remained arrogant and made the muddleheaded statement that Taiwanese welcomed being ruled by Beijing and that China has the ability to force Taiwan into compliance.
The first duty of every Chinese Communist Party (CCP) member is to protect the central leadership’s decisions, and Liu’s statement did not stray from that duty in its disregard of pressing realities and its stereotypical argument: Taiwan is a part of China because I say that it is.
On Sunday last week, the Taipei Times published an opinion piece by US Representative Ted Yoho, who used historic fact to refute Liu’s somniloquy: Then-US president Richard Nixon and US secretary of state Henry Kissinger created a cloud of confusion over the status of Taiwan, a state of affairs that culminated during the term of former US president Jimmy Carter.
Their policy was built on the assumptions that China is a huge market, that the CCP must not be angered and that only if China agrees to accept the rules of the international order could the Cold War deadlock be resolved. These are the reasons the US neglected Taiwan for many years, creating further confusion over Taiwan’s status.
To a certain degree, Yoho’s article showed that the US’ past assumptions were not necessarily wrong and worked well, at least from 1979 to 1999, when international companies made a lot of money in China.
However, the fatal flaw of this strategy was that it did not consider the CCP’s innate hatred and ability to hide it, nor did it set up any early-warning alerts or safety valves. Those in charge were either trying to protect their own private interests or were very naive.
China rose on the back of US financial aid, but is now trying to bully governments and civil society in other countries in various destructive ways. US academic circles have been too slow to respond and some people are even falling back on outdated arguments to protect Beijing. Although somewhat late, US expert on China Michael Pillsbury’s book The Hundred-Year Marathon and the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace’s report China’s Influence & American Interests: Promoting Constructive Vigilance alone could be seen as warnings.
US President Donald Trump’s administration and US politicians, regardless of party affiliation, understand that China is the greatest threat to US national security and civilizational values worldwide, and they are taking countermeasures.
However, the situation the world is confronted with is that the US is creating a strategy for a new era based on the premise that the CCP is not China and pinning its hopes on Chinese forcing the CCP to change its ways, while Beijing is conflating China with the CCP and using nationalism, high-tech surveillance, confiscation of property, restrictions on freedoms and increased state involvement in the private sector to consolidate its grip.
It is necessary to ask if Beijing’s systems destruction and habitual hate-based behavior is part of the CCP’s innate character — of course it is — or if it is a special characteristic of Chinese culture resulting from the Cultural Revolution and the ability to implement a technologically based dictatorship.
If it is the former, the international community will be able to effectively deal with China using traditional political, economic and military means, but if it is the latter, it is a cancer on human civilization and other methods will be required to cut it out.
The game is on as Beijing’s infiltration reaches into every corner and across borders — it affects everyone.
HoonTing is a political commentator.
Translated by Perry Svensson
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