Sun, Nov 02, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan `now entering its most dangerous period'

INEVITABLE China's apparent strength is an illusion and the regime could be history within a decade, but this does not mean Taiwanese can be overconfident

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan, caught by increasing worries that China's recent economic and diplomatic victories would mar its future, yesterday received comfort from a China expert who said Taiwan will survive because the communist regime will shortly collapse.

Defying the recent wave of applause for Chinese leaders, both in Asia and around the world, Gordon Chang (章家敦), author of The Coming Collapse of China, told a largely pro-independence audience that intractable problems hidden in China will eventually bring the People's Republic to its knees.

Speaking to a packed hall at an international conference titled "Cross Straits Exchange and National Security of Taiwan" in Taipei, Chang said: "Today the 23 million people of Taiwan face their most dangerous moment."

"These days Taiwan looks so weak, and China appears so mighty as it goes from strength to strength and from victory to victory," Chang said.

"Many in the pro-China camp say political integration with Beijing is Taipei's only option, and, should Taiwan fail to unite with the People's Republic [of China], it will be left with nothing," Chang said.

"Some people here say that Taiwan cannot compete with Chinese industry. Taipei, therefore, could be forced to reconcile with the Mainland's leaders so that the island's business community can participate in the booming economy across the Strait," he added.

Chang, who has lived and worked in China for almost two decades, predicted China will collapse within this decade.

"First, the economy will fail, and then the political system will disintegrate. The Communist Party will no longer be governing China," he said.

"I say, although this is Taiwan's most dangerous moment, it is only a moment. In the long term, the trends are in Taiwan's favor. Soon we will see Taiwan get stronger and China get weaker," Chang said.

Cataloging China's enormous problems "from the economy to the environment, from debt to disease, from chaos to corruption," Chang said behind China's brilliant performances lie serious crises hard for the country to take.

"Yet China's failure does not necessarily mean Taiwan's success," Chang cautioned.

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), both strong advocates of Taiwan's independency, gave the opening speeches in the conference hosted by the think tank Taiwan Advocates.

Lee recently launched a serious of activities and conferences to urge the public to realize Taiwan is a sovereign country.

Chang perceived now is a time some Taiwanese have found their confidence about the future wavering because China seems to score successes wherever it goes.

Lee, in his speech, emphasized it is urgent Taiwanese have to know Taiwan is an independent country and that the country is separate from China.

People in Taiwan will find it thorny to handle international affairs and cross-strait relations if they do not realize Taiwan and China are two distinct states, Lee said.

Of pan-blue pro-China politicians' attacks on President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) government, Lee said that such people had teamed up with China to stand against their own government.

China is Taiwan's enemy, Lee said, citing various examples to prove his point. "But there are people in Taiwan who treat our government as their enemy and China as their partner," he said.

Taiwan's over-dependence on China's economy triggered wide discussion in one conference session titled "The Cross Straits Economic Exchange and Its Impact on the National Security of Taiwan."

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