The administration of President Chen Shui-bian (
What is truly deplorable is that the US -- Taiwan's supposed ally and a country that, in his new book The Assault on Reason, former US vice president Al Gore pompously says brought the gift of democracy to the world -- would turn to humiliating practices to force Taiwanese officials into a direction that is not in the best interest of the people they were elected to represent. Or -- as seems to be brewing on the horizon -- for it to pressure other countries into blocking Taiwan from seeking UN membership.
It is no small irony that this proponent of democracy abroad has seen its democratic institutions at home become so corrupted as to threaten its very system. As Gore, a victim of undemocratic practices himself, shows in his book, officials at all levels have reached unprecedented levels of unaccountability, deceiving the public on -- to name a few prominent cases -- elections, energy, the environment, security and launching a devastating war based on nothing better than a cornucopia of lies.
The end result of the White House's unaccountable practices in the past seven years, in fact, is orders of magnitude worse than anything Chen could ever do.
And yet, on every occasion the White House has worked against Taiwanese bids to join international institutions, US officials -- including former US secretary of state Colin Powell -- will paternalistically, if not condescendingly, argue that Taiwan should instead work on "strengthening" or "consolidating" its democracy, as if speaking to a small child that is unable to walk on its own.
The thing is, in this less-than-ideal relationship, the parent is basically telling the child that it should not attempt to walk. When it obstinately continues to strive for freedom, to walk and fall on its own, the parent figure berates it and calls it "immature."
Oddly enough, we never hear US officials call on China to "strengthen" or "further" its democracy. Perhaps it is because Beijing chose to walk down a different path, one in which the rights and freedoms of the people the Chinese government supposedly represents can be trampled without consequences. It would seem, therefore, that when a country has to deal with the US, being a democracy is in fact a handicap.
If the State Department and the White House want to dictate Taiwan's choices, they should at least have the decency to refrain from couching all of their self-serving policies in democratic terms that can only make a travesty of this gift to humanity. Taiwan's democracy, though imperfect like that of all its brethren, is doing well enough. After all, Cuban President Fidel Castro never offered to send monitors to oversee elections in Taiwan. The US can't say as much, ironically.
Chen's wildest blunders, about-faces and broken promises -- all made in the context of the quest for the recognition of Taiwan -- have not endangered lives or made a joke of democratic principles. Unlike Washington's own mistakes, his have not resulted in countless deaths, a gargantuan national debt and a step backward in what indeed used to be a democratic system that deserved to be the envy of the world.
Which begs the question: Who should be advising whom on the need to further one's democracy?
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday last week met with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) at an APEC summit in Thailand. The meeting made front-page news in Japan the following day. Three years ago, when then-Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe visited Beijing to meet with Xi, no one questioned Abe’s attitude toward China, as the conservative parties in Japan had been spearheaded by Abe. However, Kishida could easily be labeled as pro-China, as he hails from Hiroshima — a place known for its anti-war, anti-nuclear movements — and was once the director of the Japan-China Friendship Association of Hiroshima.
It is quite the irony when former British prime minister Boris Johnson — a buffoon who for far too long was taken seriously — is branded a buffoon for saying something deadly serious. Following Johnson’s withering criticism of China at a business forum in Singapore on Wednesday last week, the event’s organizer, Michael Bloomberg, apologized to attendees, saying that Johnson was “trying to be amusing rather than informative and serious.” However, Johnson’s characterization of China as a “coercive autocracy” that had showed “a candid disregard for the rule of international law” was spot-on. His comments evoked the wisdom of the Austrian-British philosopher
Although the share price of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) has fallen significantly amid concerns over worldwide inflation, US billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway spent a massive US$4.1 billion on the chipmaker’s American depositary receipts. Reporting on Buffett’s investment in TSMC, some Chinese-language media outlets have said that it would give the Taiwanese economy a shot in the arm. Although TSMC has planted its flag in various countries around the world, Taiwan is still its most important base. The US invited TSMC to set up a plant in Arizona, because it was worried that its source of cutting-edge chips would
As campaign fever for tomorrow’s local elections turns white hot, supporters of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have been going head to head on social media. The latest row was triggered by a Facebook post on Nov. 13 by songwriter and KMT supporter Liu Chia-chang (劉家昌), who rebuked United Microelectronics Corp founder Robert Tsao (曹興誠) for advocating independence. “Although you regained your ROC [Republic of China] citizenship after returning from Singapore, you continue to help the green independents by guarding their flank,” Liu wrote, adding that it was an “insult to the nation.” “When [KMT