Editorial: Seduced by a `moderate' Hu Jintao

Wed, Oct 17, 2007 - Page 8

When Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) suggested at this week's Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress that China and Taiwan could begin talks -- on condition that Taiwan accept the "one China" principle -- one might have assumed that literate China-watchers would cluck their tongues, think "more of the same" and turn to more pressing internal political matters.

Not so with the US' National Security Council (NSC), whose membership is delighted with Hu's "moderate tone." Spokesman Gordon Johndroe gave sober cross-strait analysts cause for mirth when he suggested that Hu's rehash of old strategy amounted to new and constructive language.

The NSC seems delighted when Beijing chooses not to use the expressions "Taiwan" and "reclaim by force" in the same sentence. As extraordinary as it may appear, the NSC -- that is to say, the White House -- thinks that a Chinese autocrat's softened tone at a CCP congress reflects a weakened resolve to attack this country and a willingness to compromise on any level.

The fact is that the NSC's language assumes deep down that Taiwan is Chinese territory and that unification is inevitable, blocked only by technical political disagreements and the wicked designs of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). The NSC's words make no allowance whatsoever for the extent of dissent in Taiwan on the "one China" policy or even the existence of such dissent; indeed, the NSC seems unaware that Taiwan's democracy movement was intertwined with the realization that independence from China is essential to protect democracy.

All of this lends weight to sources that suggest US President George W. Bush is now playing a major role in cross-strait policy. If this is true, Taiwanese have good reason to be concerned, and not just because he has been treating his Chinese counterpart with kid gloves ever since Bush's anomalous promise to defend Taiwan, "whatever it takes," in 2001.

The "one China" principle mandates the abolition of Taiwanese sovereignty and the co-opting and probable dismantling of Taiwan's democracy. Together with attendant carpetbagging, oppressive government and withdrawal of human rights, the result is the obliteration of those "American values" that the US helped to seed in this country.

Too many US officials interpret "one China" as a principle for unity and stability, yet they concede that on the far side of China things are far from unitary or stable.

If the US values the integrity of Tibetan people and their religious leader, the Dalai Lama -- and are prepared to irritate the Chinese in showing it -- why is it that at every juncture so many US government agencies adopt a stance that emboldens Beijing regarding Taiwan?

By pushing Taiwanese toward a settlement with a Chinese government that has no interest in the welfare of Taiwanese, the US pacifies the same dictatorship that is colonizing Tibet, punishing the devout and making a global hero out of the Dalai Lama. It would be interesting to hear the NSC explain the reasoning behind this contradictory strategy.