How Long Must Taiwan Reap What Others Sow?

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Thursday May 12, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

There are times in listening to world leaders that one wonders whether they are being simplistic, blind, naÏve, or even duplicitous in their assessment of the world and its economy. A case in point recently came when Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd visited Washington D.C. Rudd chatted with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then spoke at the Brookings Institute. In his speech Rudd stressed the importance of bringing China into international institutions. Rudd's reason of course was that the world economy depended on it. This bears deeper examination.

First there is the question why China needs to be brought into international institutions. China is not an international waif in the wilderness; China already is very actively involved in the world spending billions to spread its influence and to gain access to oil, raw materials etc. etc. It also is already in most international institutions and if it isn't it at least has influence and leverage therein. So what does Rudd mean?

Rudd continues the world economy depends on China. What does that mean? Let's leave aside for the time being that there are many other trouble spots that affect the world economy like the Middle East Jasmine revolutions, Afghanistan, Iraq etc. etc. Rudd puts it this way, "Continued regional and global economic growth will depend on maintaining for the next 40 years the sort of strategic stability in the East that we have seen in the last 40 years."

Again while what it means that there has been a strategic stability in the East for the last 40 years is open to question, examine the why of the dependence on China. The reason that the world economy depends on China is that other nations have created it that way. Somehow the world wants to have its cake and eat it. China's Politburo offered China's cheap labor and cheap manufacturing and everyone made money. China's rulers made so much that they could buy US. Debt etc. And now of course companies want also to have access to the 1.3 billion people market in China, you know the slant, "if 1.3 billion people in China buy a toothbrush from you, you will be rich." Is there a naiveté here that this behemoth will then do the bidding of its creators?

Yet after creating a metaphorical 800 lb. gorilla controlled by Chinas Politburo, Rudd states that bodies like the G20 and the East Asia Summit could put Beijing on the right path as its power grows and China has a formidable military force. Will China willingly listen to and allow lesser countries outside it and surrounding it, put it on the right path to power especially when it already has it?

Rudd answers again that all the world needs is to talk to China in terms of its philosophical tradition such as the nebulous word "harmony." Ah yes, harmony, that is the word that Beijing's leadership uses to squelch any dissenting voices to its autocracy. Rudd seems to think that China's idea of harmony is based on the same principles that the word harmony is based on in the West. Not so, the word may be the same and have the same spelling but the paradigmatic assumptions that each side bases the meaning of the word on are world's apart. Harmony for China is based on the hegemonic and hierarchical position of a central China dictating to vassal states around it. That is not the same world vision by which others incorporate the word harmony.

Rudd then admits that China does have some issues regarding its assertiveness in territorial disputes in the South and East China Sea. Hello, go back and read China's definition of harmony. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Rudd closed his remarks with some traditional old saws referring to the recent calm in the Taiwan Strait and foolhardily trying to link it to the need for Ma Ying-jeou to be re-elected President in Taiwan. This is where the question of duplicity arises. The problem and challenge to harmony in the Taiwan Strait has never been Taiwan. The problem in the Taiwan Strait has been China, is China and will always be the hegemony of China refusing to recognize the democracy and freedom of the people of Taiwan.

Only recently was a September 2010 World Health Association (WHA) secret memo to its member states made public in Wiki-leaks fashion. In it, the WHA advises all of its members to treat the independent nation of Taiwan as a province of China. This bows to Chinas definition of "one China" and its territorial claims. Other nations acknowledge that this is China's claim but that does not mean they agree with it. Up until this time, Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou had been boasting of his great success of establishing peace in the Taiwan Strait. Peace at what price, the price of a democratic and free Taiwan being a province of China? And how many other states received this memo that denigrated Taiwan and kept a duplicitous silence? Was Australia one?