Sat, Mar 09, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Author predicts China's collapse

`BULLY NEXT DOOR' Gordon Chang's forecasts that the communist regime would fall within a decade met with skepticism from academics at a symposium

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Gordon Chang, left, shows off his book, The Coming Collapse of China, at National Chengchi University yesterday.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

A prediction by Gordon Chang (章家敦), author of The Coming Collapse of China, that the Chinese communist regime would fall within a decade met with skepticism at a public hearing yesterday.

"My message to the people of Taiwan is simple: Your neighbor, the mainland, is trembling," Chang said at the Legislative Yuan yesterday morning.

"The government will collapse in five or six years, a decade at the most."

The US attorney also highlighted what he said was the importance of his first book, deemed by many as an eye-opener for "China optimists."

"In the future, people around the world will see China collapse in the safety of their own home. They will see all this chaos and will go on with their lives. The people of Taiwan do not have that same luxury," Chang said.

"China is your neighbor, the bully next door. When the Chinese giant fails, you can't avoid the consequences," Chang told a roomful of officials, lawmakers and the press.

Chang also predicted that when China's economy fails, leaders in Beijing will raise the flag of nationalism even higher as a means of keeping themselves in power.

"Unfortunately, that means the mainland is going to be even more aggressive with its neighbors," including Taiwan, Chang said.

Chang said four major elements determined China's stability. He said the Chinese government was heavily indebted, once pension liabilities and non-performing loans were included, and that the government was unable to finance the deficit spending that has been propelling China's economic growth.

Although China's WTO accession can benefit the country once structural reforms are made, it will produce short-term problems, Chang said.

Rising unemployment, corruption, crumbling state-owned enterprises as well as social unrest, he said, would become inevitable in the wake of the "shock therapy of the WTO" following five decades of mismanagement.

He said China would also suffer from a rough transition of power to the next generation of leaders, exacerbated by the global economic downturn in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the US.

"The point is, China faces these challenges all at once, not just one challenge at one time," Chang said, adding that he did not believe the new generation of leaders could cope with this upheaval.

He said that reforms took time to implement, and there were no guarantees that China would use the time it has left effectively.

Describing Mao Zedong (毛澤東) as a "realist" who surrounded his new republic with high and strong walls so that it would survive external disturbances, Chang said Mao's successors did not have that luxury.

"China's new leaders have not changed the Maoist system, in which the Chinese Communist Party directs and society is supposed to follow. But they have sought to create a more modern nation and they have opened the country" to all forces that apply around the world, Chang said.

But Chang's opinions found their critics yesterday afternoon, when he joined a roomful of scholars at the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University for a panel discussion.

Some were cynical about Chang's prediction that the Chinese communist regime would fall in the near future.

"I bet that the regime won't collapse in five years," said Chen Chih-jou (陳志柔), assistant research fellow at the Institute of Sociology at the Academia Sinica.

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