"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Taiwan strikes back

"I counter your lies about yourself with some truth about yourself"

Is the pixel mighter than the missile?

Just one week after China promulgated a white paper filled with "solemn" bullshit, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has struck back with a white paper of its own. Titled "Our Position on China's Rise," it unhesitatingly knocks down China's claims of being "peaceful." [Read the whole thing at these links: English, Traditional-Chinese]

Taiwan's white paper contains a huge number of salient points. Here are several, along with some of my commentary:
[Taiwan] shares the international community's hope that China emerges as a peace-loving country that abides by international norms and respects human rights and democracy. However, judging from China's present conduct and the nature of its current government, that nation still has a long way to go. For many years now, Taiwan has had a particularly close and stressful relationship with China, subject to real and direct threats from that country.
Yea-heah! You may not know how hard it is (made so by the KMT) for some people to say out loud that China is a foreign country, but saying "that nation" and "that country" comes pretty damned close! Doing so via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a pretty interesting way of doing it, too.
Taiwan believes that a pragmatic, rational and cautious mindset should be maintained when observing the overall picture of China's development and searching for ways to respond to the opportunities and threats that China's emergence entails.
This is also a good way to start when others have been labeling you as a "renegade" for so long. (Again, the "renegades" would be the KMT, which does not equal Taiwan.)
Despite not being threatened by any foreign power, China has been increasing its annual defense expenditures at a double-digit rate, exceeding its economic growth rate. It is estimated that the real defense budget of China is as high as US$90 billion in 2005, ranking third in the world and the highest in Asia. This is double the 2000 figure, and triple that of 1997. From 2001 to 2004, the value of conventional arms transfer agreements signed by China was the largest in the world, more than double the amount spent from 1997 to 2000. But China has never made its national security strategy report public. The purpose and direction of its military modernization are lacking in transparency and are thus of concern for democratic countries around its borders.
Some professional psychoanalysis would be required here to understand why the bullies are so afraid. Unless, of course, they're not afraid of being attacked, but are rather planning to attack someone else. Any guesses who that might be?
As China's economic and military strength have been built up, its political institutions have not experienced the same degree of development.

· Political system: China is still ruled by a single political party, and competition between parties is prohibited. Its so-called "democratic elections" are not only limited to rural villages, but are also mostly controlled by the Communist Party. Such elections are not held for county magistrates, provincial officials, or for the central government.

· Civil rights: On October 5, 1998, China signed the International Convention on Civilian and Political Rights. Yet it has not completed the ratification procedures, not to mention implementing the obligations stipulated in the Convention. According to World Freedom 2005 published by Freedom House, China is one of the 49 "not free" countries of the 192 countries in the world.

· Press freedom: China ranks 159th among 167 countries in the Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2005 published by the Reporters Without Borders.

· Religious freedom: China continues to repress Buddhists in Tibet, Muslims in Western Xinjiang, Catholics supportive of the Vatican, Protestants who are members of underground churches and members of the Fa Lun Gong. It is listed as one of the eight countries that is a cause for "special concern" around the world.
That's not democracy. That's a totalitarian dictatorship in fear of its own people (because aiming missiles at yourself would be detrimental to one's health)!

Nevertheless, unwarranted nationalism abounds:
· In August 2004, when the Chinese soccer team competed against the Japanese team for the Asian Cup in Beijing, irrational anti-Japanese riots broke out in the country.

· In April 2005, major cities in China saw large-scale and violent anti-Japanese demonstrations.

These demonstrations are all evidence of rising nationalist sentiment within the country. It proves that the so-called "patriotic education" in essence is synonymous with the instigation of nationalist sentiment.
Why bother with fair, sportsmanlike behavior done in the name of good-spirited competition? Or is their "good old" nationalism simply out of control?
China's threats are not figurative; rather, they are matters of fact in the Asia-Pacific Region. They should be closely watched by all countries around the world.


China has refused to renounce the use of force against Taiwan. In 1996, China test-launched missiles targeting the two largest harbors in Taiwan. In the following years, it conducted target-specific amphibious military exercises. In recent years, the number of Chinese missiles targeted at Taiwan has increased from 650 to 730, with 100 more being added each year. On March 14 this year, China passed the so-called "Anti-secession Law," which openly provides a legal basis for use of force against Taiwan, and unilaterally defines the conditions and timing of such an eventuality.
Ah! So that's where all that military spending is going!

Oh, no? It doesn't stop there?
Current trends in China's military modernization could provide China with a force capable of executing a range of military operations in Asia—well beyond Taiwan—potentially posing a credible threat to the defensive military operation of countries in the region.
Have we got your attention yet?
[Taiwan] continues to make efforts to deepen the foundation of democracy and freedom, and also actively participate in international cooperation in enhancing democracy, based on its own experience. Therefore, Taiwan's democratic development has been acclaimed as a success story, one which proves that Asian values can coexist with democratic and liberal beliefs.
Oops! Just lost the US Republicans with that one. Never mind. Hopefully they'll all be rotting away in secret prisons soon, being tortured in the name of the "War on (insert latest faux casus belli here)."
Since the Chinese Communist Party established its regime, China has never been a peace-loving nation. In addition to launching military attacks against Kinmen (Quemoy) in 1958, China also participated in the Korean War and was involved in the Vietnam War. China has also had military conflicts with the Soviet Union, India and Vietnam. The emergence of Nazism, fascism and militarism before the Second World War and the emergence of Soviet communism after the Second World War all shared a common feature: the relevant countries all sought to boost their military force while restraining the development of democratic institutions. With these historical reminders, China's simultaneous military build-up and lack of democratic development should stir the international community to greater concern.
But will it?

In more recent history:
Since officials in China's Communist Party first used the phrase "peaceful rise" to describe China in November 2003, many high-ranking officials have used the same phrase on many occasions. However, as different opinions have arisen concerning the interpretation of "peaceful rise," the phrase was quietly withdrawn by Chinese authorities in mid-2004. The international community initially expected that once Hu Jin-tao, China's fourth-generation leader, took office he would adopt a softer approach of reform and opening-up to the world. However, today's Chinese government still tightly controls the mass media and communications without any signs of democratization. Judging by China's military readiness and the nuclear threats issued by military personnel such as Xiong Guangkai and Zhu Chenghu, the international community should still be highly alert to the possibility of China's use of force as a result of China's power struggle in its inner circles.
Some in the "international community" -- even some writing about this stuff in the "news" -- think Hu's name is "Mr. Jintao." If you get your information about Taiwan from people like that, you're in deep doo-doo. If you don't, then you will have known from the very start that China's talk of its "rise" was nothin' but a ruse.
In addition to not abiding by the universal values of democracy and freedom, China has supported countries with bad human rights records. Moreover, it has violated international norms of anti-proliferation, exported missiles and nuclear technologies, and has thus been criticized repeatedly by other countries.
That criticism would be greater if not for that sickening economic carrot/stick that China likes to wave about.
Founded on its massive cheap labor force and substandard environmental protection and labor conditions, China's industrial activities have created a new type of exploitive economy [...]
... which is merely one reason that I recommend not buying anything with a "Made in China" label.

Taiwan's white paper closes with some solid concrete suggestions:
Facing current and potential threats from China, the international community should adopt the following measures to ensure that China will become a constructive stakeholder in developing democracy, prosperity and peace in the world.

1. Engagement with firm principles: It is believed that the strengthening of economic and trade ties between China and countries around the globe will be conducive to facilitating China's economic development, and that such economic development will therefore bring about China's democratic development. However, this syllogism will never be effective unless three prerequisites are fulfilled. First of all, countries around the world should not compromise their stance on the principles of democracy and human rights when interacting with China, as this will serve only to delay rather than promote China's democratization. Secondly, they should not sacrifice the common interests of democracies neighboring China, including Taiwan, when engaging with China. Thirdly, countries outside East Asia should not ignore the threats to regional security posed by China and should not further compromise security in East Asia by expanding arms sales to or military cooperation with China.

2. Jointly maintaining security in the Taiwan Strait: Accepting China's stand that the Taiwan issue is an internal affair will only encourage Chinese ambitions to attack Taiwan and further endanger the security of the Taiwan Strait and East Asia. To avoid this occurrence, the international community should promote the following three measures: First of all, the United Nations (UN) should dispatch a special envoy or fact-finding mission to evaluate the security situation in the Taiwan Strait and report back to the UN on a regular basis. Secondly, the international community should support Taiwan's participation in official or second-track security dialogue in the region, and assist in promoting the establishment of confidence-building measures between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Thirdly, through multilateral and bilateral channels, the international community should firmly advocate its stance on the peaceful resolution of the Taiwan Strait issue, and clearly oppose China's use of force against Taiwan.

3. Support Taiwan's democracy and international participation:

China's emergence must be backed on the basis of "peaceful awareness" and "democratic promotion" so that a rising China can be ensured to serve as a positive factor in the international community. In this process, Taiwan plays a key role. Taiwan is not only an unsinkable aircraft carrier that can prevent China's rash military actions, but also a lighthouse guiding China to democratization. The international community should help establish a new balance of power in the Taiwan Strait that supports "Taiwan's democracy" and "cross-Strait peace." Concrete measures should include: Firstly, including Taiwan in the network of international organizations and cooperation, so that the two sides of the Strait can establish mutual trust for dialogue and cooperation under the international framework; and secondly, democracies around the world should set up an "alliance of shared values" with Taiwan, and invite Taiwan to become a significant member in the "Community of Democracies" so as to use the strength of democracy to counter military threats posed by China.

4. Cooperating to facilitate China's transition: In order to ensure that China will be a responsible and well-behaved member in the international community, countries around the world should cooperate with one another in jointly facilitating China's transition into a country that implements democracy, protects freedom, respects human rights, adopts the rule of law and loves peace. In contrast to China, Taiwan is a success story of political and economic development. Taiwan has certain strong advantages in dealing with China, as compared to many other countries, including language, culture and geographical connections. As a consequence, the international community should take full advantage of Taiwan's accomplishments and experiences and incorporate Taiwan into the alliance of shared values in facilitating China's transition.
This is the way it should have been stated on a daily basis since the DPP has been in a position to do so. It's about friggin' time!

This white paper is available in .DOC and .PDF formats in both English and Traditional-Chinese via links at the bottom of the respective HTML versions linked at the top of this post.

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