Taipei Times, Thursday June 16, 2005, page 8.
"China Can Be The Big Winner"
How strange China should be undertaking such a huge military buildup, and conducting so much of it behind the scenes, in a clandestine fashion. One wonders who it perceives to be its enemy when the whole world benefits from its new prosperity and success, welcomes it with open arms, scrambles to invest in its big future and wants "in" on its economic miracle. Schoolchildren the world over are learning Mandarin. Everybody knows China is the future. "Nobody is going to attack China," stammers the U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfield, apparently at a loss to understand why it is hurrying so to arm itself.
Across the water from China sits peaceful little Taiwan, with its bustling democracy and free market economy -- the major engine of China's growth. How many other developing countries wish they had a Taiwan off their shore. It would be hard to calculate the extent to which Taiwan benefits China day in and day out. How strange then that following Taiwan's disastrous earthquake a few years back, China prevented emergency relief from being flown in to Taiwan over Chinese territory. At the height of the SARS episode, China blocked Taiwan's entry into the World Health Organization. A pandemic bird flu disaster looms in the region. China continues to block Taiwan's entry. Again and again, Taiwan has said it wants peaceful relations with China. Yet China now has hundreds of missiles aimed at Taiwan. Can anyone doubt that the armada of modern troop ships, submarines and airplanes that China is currently amassing at such a breakneck pace is for use against Taiwan?
Stranger stories every day come out of China, one after another. Recently a Chinese journalist who wrote against corruption in his newspaper and won an award for his probity was beaten and had some fingers hacked off. That writer will never type again. Another Chinese journalist received a long prison sentence, just for sending an e-mail. The Chinese doctor who blew the whistle on SARS was "disappeared" along with his wife for speaking out truthfully about the Tienaman Square massacre. The internet in China is tightly controlled; yet, no sooner did Japan announce it would come to Taiwan's assistance in the event of a Chinese attack, than an anti-Japanese movement easily organized itself on China's controlled internet, sent out all the e-mails it wanted and staged riots across China. Chinese police stood idly by as demonstrators smashed Japanese property. What was it all about? The excuse about Japan's offenses during the war would be more believable if China hadn't itself committed those same offenses in Tibet. The excuse about the Japanese textbooks would be believable if China's textbooks didn't still omit the truth about Tibet and about Tienaman Square. The excuse about the Japanese leader paying homage to an offensive shrine would be believable if Mao's picture wasn't still prominently displayed as an object of reverence in Beijing. Japan's commitment to defend Taiwan was the reason behind China's temper tantrum.
China has not only probed Japanese waters with its submarines but is insanely probing weaknesses in the defense system of the United States, Taiwan's chief protector. "We are smarter than you!" Chinese sites brag to the Americans -- uncensored on China's highly censored internet. On 9/11, Chinese sites expressed glee over pictures of the burning towers in New York City -- likewise uncensored. Earlier this year, sites all around China likened the visiting American Secretary of State to a "monkey" because of her African ancestry and called her "ugly" and "stupid" -- also uncensored. Towards any country standing in the way of its designs on Taiwan, China behaves less like a modern civilized nation, than like a primitive and crude barbarian.
If we look at China's history, we can see why. Over the last 5,000 years, China has again and again been conquered and ruled by barbarians -- barbarians from the outside, and "barbarians" from the inside. Never once has it been conquered and ruled by its own people, like newly democratic Taiwan. This is the real threat Taiwan poses to China -- it is free. And so long as it sits there free -- prospering, and making China prosper; thriving, and making China thrive; bristling with enterprise, and making China bristle with enterprise -- democratic Taiwan shows up the lie of China's barbarian rule and the lie of Chinese history. China wasn't made weak by foreign invaders. It was invaded by foreigners because it was made weak by its own corrupt despots. China's weakness has been its lack of freedom. This is still true today. Where there is freedom people can speak out and put an end to corruption and the abuse of power that tear a country apart at its root.
The huge military buildup underway in China today is not to protect China and the Chinese people from any outside enemy because China has no outside enemy. Its purpose is to protect China's rulers from the Chinese people. It is poised to strike Taiwan because Taiwan is an embodiment of the pre-eminent danger felt by those rulers -- Taiwan is a shining example of Chinese people successfully governing themselves, making their own decisions, being free -- and thriving as a result, and making everyone thrive all around them. The very existence of Taiwan's huge success cries out to China's tyrants something they are terrified the rest of China might hear -- "The people can rule themselves."
Because of the reason for which it is being carried out, the effect of China's military build-up will not be to make China strong, but to perpetuate its historic weakness. The same is true for China's ongoing inquisition against those of its own people honest and courageous enough to openly speak the truth. And the same is true for China's censorship of the internet, blocking of websites, and suppression of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement. All these policies perpetuate China's historic weakness. The way to strength is to confront and expose weakness, and then eliminate it. For China to be great, this is the strategy it needs to take. It is time for those who love China, in its military and in its government, to stop covering up China's weakness and inner corruption and to make China strong instead -- by making it free. The only ones who might be hurt by this are those who are doing the damage -- China's real enemies. The corrupt, not the honest, need to be rooted out and put in jail.
China can't keep wasting precious resources fighting the truth. It needs to get on with the business of the day -- which is to throw off the barbarian model, and allow itself, for the first time in its long history, to be conquered finally by its own people. Democracy and freedom alone can release Chinas vast and unfathomable potential. It happened in Taiwan. It can happen in China the same way.
Instead of bullying Taiwan or trying to make a grab for it, China should be doing everything in its power to assist its successful little brother and to follow his proud example. A good first step would be for China to let the people of Taiwan themselves decide their future. Nobody in the whole world is against Taiwan being a part of China, if the Taiwanese people choose that. If China could only bring itself to give the people of Taiwan this choice, then no matter which way the Taiwanese people decide to go, China will come away the big winner -- because it will have discovered, finally after 5,000 years, that its strength lies not in tyranny but in freedom.