Love Our China!...Or Else
By Rip Rense <>
Did you catch China's millennium extravaganza during the PBS telecasts last New Year's Eve?
Thousands of gaily-costumed citizens danced dutifully in the streets, in militarily precise choreography, while a chorus and pop singer belted out an anthem written just for the occasion. It was sort of a rocked-up "Hallelujah Chorus," but instead of "Hallelujah," they were singing, "Ai wo chung-hwa!"
Love our China!
Well, you know, that would be nice. It would be nice to love their China. There is much in the culture that is lovable: from the music to the art to the cuisine to the work ethic and buoyant, inquisitive spirit of the people. But then there are things that you just can't ai very much.
Consider Tracy Zhao. An American woman from New York, and a stewardess for Northwest Airlines, Zhao was photographing a Falun Gong protest in Tienanmen Square Feb. 4, when the cops picked her up, slapped her around, and made her disappear for a while.
I don't ai that.
Consider 80-year-old John Yang Shudao, archbishop of China's Roman Catholic Church -- make that underground Roman Catholic Church. When Yang refused to denounce his Pope and head a government-run church in 1955, he was sentenced to life in prison. Released in 1981, he was rearrested in '88, released again, rearrested, released, etc. On Feb. 10, 2000, about 150 police -- 150! -- nabbed him once more, for old times' sake, and threw the old man back in the clink.
I don't ai that, either.
Then there is the whole Falun Gong movement. These are several million people who believe in meditating, deep-breathing and upright, "moral" lifestyle. Their philosophy is rooted in such subversive Buddhist and Taoist notions as healthful living and charity. Of course, this terrifies the paranoiacs of Beijing, who kicked off the Year of the Dragon by beating the hell out of about 50 Falun Gong adherents meditating in Tiananmen Square. This brings to about 5,000 the number of those beaten and sent to labor camps and psychiatric "hospitals." At least 11 of them, latest reports say, have been beaten to death.
One wonders: Does it ever occur to President Jiang Zemin, et al., to ... welcome ... Falun Gong?
Guess not. Same way it didn't occur to them to embrace the noble kids who went to Tiananmen to protest for democracy. Placating those children might have saved the trouble of, er, murdering them. It all begs an obvious question: would party control be so easily threatened if it were approved by the people?
Love our China!
Maybe this is too harsh. After all, Communist premier Zhu Rongji issued a tender Chinese New Year's "greeting" to Taiwan a few weeks back. It was almost as touching as Beijing's magnanimous donation of what amounts to a whopping $100,000 in U.S. dollars to help Taiwan earthquake victims last fall. Enough to rebuild at least part of one whole house!
"At this occasion of reunion for millions of families," said Zhu, "we miss our Taiwan compatriots more than ever."
Right. You know how much Zhu and his government miss Taiwan? Enough to rain down missiles on the tiny, vibrant democracy -- the first Chinese democracy in 4,000 years -- if it makes the slightest peep about being a separate "state" again. This has pretty well cowed current Taiwan presidential candidates into eliminating the word, "independence," from their vocabularies.
With "compatriots" like that, who needs enemies?
Love our China!
Yes, this is the nation that bans the Turner Broadcasting Company's "Cartoon Network," for reasons yet unknown. Perhaps Rocky and Bullwinkle were also a threat to party control.
Last month the U.S. Congress heroically and overwhelmingly passed a bill to strengthen military ties with Taiwan, only to incur this twisted response from the People's Liberation Army Daily: the new bill "has exposed a plot by some American forces to use military force to thwart China's ambitions for unification. This doubtlessly is playing with fire."
Right. And it wasn't playing with fire last year, when a high-ranking China official mentioned something about lobbing a nuke across the Pacific and, uh, ruining the Academy Awards. Or yesterday, when the PLA Daily repeated the threat, declaring that the U.S. will pay a "high price" if it defends Taiwan, noting that China has "long-distance (nuclear) strike capabilities."
Love our China!
Our China, of course, poses the greatest threat to unification with Taiwan. If, by some miracle, the Beijing regime turned benevolent and democratic, odds are that Taiwan would have little problem going along with close ties to the mainland. It would probably be a natural outcome. But the Big Dragon, having gotten its claws into Hong Kong and Macau through the expiration of treaties, continues to belch smoke and fire about "reunification."
Problem is, there can never be "reunification," because there never was "unification" in the first place!
This column outlined the separation of Taiwan and China in "The house around the corner" Put glibly, China has about as much real claim on Taiwan as England has on Massachusetts. Yes, the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, but is Prime Minister Tony Blair threatening to shower the place with missiles 225 years later?
This island of 22 million -- the world's 13th leading trade partner -- has historically been a refuge for displaced mainlanders, and was variously occupied and claimed by the Dutch, French, and Japanese. China's Manchu emperors never bothered to exert any authority or control over the Taiwan during the Qing Dynasty from the 1680s to the 1880s, and in the 1870s declared, "Taiwan is beyond our territory." Yes, the Manchus did formally lay claim to the place in 1887, but strictly in order to out-fox the Japanese, who were expanding southward. It didn't work. Japan took Taiwan, and ruled it brutally through World War II. At the Cairo Conference in 1943, China President Chiang Kai-Shek's request that Taiwan be "returned to (Nationalist) China" was granted. When the Mao-led communists chased Chiang out in 1949, the nationalists took refuge in Taiwan. Conclusion:
The island was never in the jurisdiction of communist China.
There is nothing that suggests Taiwan was ever taken seriously as a part of pre-communist China.
The China government approved at Cairo is the same government that rules Taiwan today.
China's bellicose claim on Taiwan is ... propaganda.
Love our China!
You want to know who loves Our China? Multinational corporations! They really love it. Companies that build satellite dishes and skyscrapers and dams and media empires and Pokemon cards. After all, they get the cut-rate benefits of unlimited slave, prison, and child labor! Such a deal! Then there is President Clinton, who says he will veto the new military aid bill for Taiwan, claiming that it jeopardizes stability in the region. What stability, you wonder? Why, the stability that protects the gargantuan Sino-market for multinationals. Just the other day, Clinton dismissed China's hideous threats as so much bluster, made merely "in the context of (ongoing) electoral politics in Taiwan," as he continued to shill for giving China permanent normal trade relations (NTO). Such mercenary politics must make Rupert Murdoch and Mickey Mouse happy. ...
Meanwhile, on March 18, Taiwan will elect one of three presidential candidates, who are about evenly split in polls: Vice-President Lien Chan (Kuomintang, or Nationalist party), James Soong (Independent), and Chen Shui-bian (Democratic Progressive Party).
Wisely, all three now espouse the same moderate position regarding China: don't bait the Big Dragon. The veep, Lien, has said recently that when President Lee Teng-hui referred to a "state-to-state relationship" with China last fall, he wasn't seeking independence. Soong, who split from the Kuomintang, but is said to hold many of its middle-ground positions, suggests signing a 30-year mutual non-aggression agreement with China, with other nations as witnesses. Even Chen, the candidate of the DPP, historically the hotheaded pro-independence party, has issued a proposal that boils down to "no Taiwan independence if no mainland invasion." Pretty reasonable!
But reason is as common in communist China politics as two-syllable family names. Consider:
When Beijing got what it claimed to want -- a de facto pledge from the candidates of no declaration of independence from Taiwan -- it simply changed the game. Last week, Beijing Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao declared that if Taiwan doesn't sit down promptly to discuss "reunification," China will attack anyhow.
This comes, incidentally, in the wake of threats made by Beijing Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Wang Guangya against the entire planet. If the world doesn't accept "reunification," he said, it risks consequences "you don't want to see."
Love our China!
The Clinton administration initially issued vague statements about sending a couple of aircraft carriers into the Taiwan Strait, if China were to take any action -- a rerun of what happened when Beijing fired "test" missiles there during the last Taiwan election. In a dramatic response to the new invasion threat, however -- a threat made without first alerting Washington -- Adm. Dennis Blair, commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, was sent to Beijing to reportedly warn that the U.S. will flat-out defend Taiwan. Defense Minister Chi Haotian's response to Blair: "China will never commit not to use force.''
Ironically, the strongest words by a U.S. official so far have come from presidential candidate John McCain. Seaborne missile defense systems should be developed for Taiwan, he said, adding that the U.S. absolutely must protect the teardrop-shaped island. In an incisive twist, the candidate observed that an attack by Beijing would constitute a violation of China's very own "one-China" policy.
Invasion, of course, would accomplish several things for the Big Dragon (in addition to a little byproduct of military conquest called death):
Worldwide condemnation of China, if not U.S.-China confrontation.
Deep-seated, exponentially greater hatred of China, guaranteed in Taiwan for generations to come.
Shattering of the massively profitable mutual investment that exists now between China and Taiwan ($25.758 billion in cross-Strait trade during 1999) with world investment in both countries thrown into chaos).
There is, it must be admitted, one very compelling reason for going through with an invasion -- the same reason that China murders its own children in Tiananmen Square, imprisons Archbishop Yang, kidnaps the Falun Gong, and killed millions in the Cultural Revolution. ...
Love our China!
Even the song is a demand.
Rip Rense is writer and columnist whose work has appeared in many newspapers and magazines, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Emmy Magazine, TV Guide, and Free China Review.
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