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China putting Rice in double bind
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to China has come to a close. The March 26 rally in Taiwan has now taken center stage. People in Taiwan have been voicing their condemnation of China and expressing their displeasure to the world.
Taiwanese were concerned about Rice's visit to China, since only the US' democratic hegemony can contain China's totalitarian hegemony. Therefore, weaker and smaller countries alike tend to ask the US for help and expect it to bring about justice.
Supported by the US, Kuwait upheld its independent sovereignty when it was invaded by Iraq. If the Kuwaiti monarchy was given military protection by the US, then Taiwan, as a democracy, has even more reason to expect US support. Regrettably, although Taiwan did all it could to cooperate with the US on the definition of the status quo in the Taiwan Strait while enduring constant humiliation from China, China still ignored the status quo and enacted the "Anti-Secession" Law, unilaterally altering the status quo.
In view of its own interests, the US could only tacitly acknowledge the altered status quo. Rice's visit effectively demonstrated this acceptance. The question is whether China will be satisfied with the new status quo. Will it take further actions to change it further? The answer is obviously positive in that China's ultimate goal is to annex Taiwan.
Therefore, the Taiwanese people want to know to what extent China can be allowed to erode the status quo before the US will step in. In view of the fact that the US is unlikely to be totally protective of Taiwan's sovereignty and security, Taiwan has to come up with something to protect itself.
That is why I hope President Chen Shui-bian will tell China and the rest of the world that to protect our own sovereignty and security, Taiwan will reserve the right to counterbalance the Anti-Secession Law. This includes writing a new constitution, changing of the national title and gaining entry to the UN. Only by achieving these goals can Taiwan become a normal country.
Taiwan certainly understands that the US has its own national interests to consider. However, maintaining security across the Taiwan Strait is also one of the most important interests of the US. We understand that the US has to fight against terrorists, but isn't China the biggest terrorist state in the world?
Not only that, China is the most notorious rogue state, with its adroit rhetoric to dupe the whole world. If the US cannot extricate itself soon from Iraq and switch its attention to China, it will have to pay a very high price in the future.
A commentary in the British Financial Times said that Beijing has silently taken advantage of the US' anti-terrorism activities to further its own imperialistic purposes by making new friends in Southeast Asia, India, Latin America and Africa.
The Bush administration is waking up to this state of affairs, even though some people say that it is already too late by three years. Although Rice's visit to South and East Asia is an obvious move in this direction, the US still lacks a way of dealing with this situation.
China has given Rice its traditional two-faced treatment. Officially, it takes a soft stance, describing the Anti-Secession Law as a "law for peace." The most nauseating was when Premier Wen Jiabao greeted Rice, saying that she came on the spring wind and that spring is the season for planting new seeds, and that he therefore hoped that Rice's visit would plant new seeds for the Sino-US friendship.
He also said that Rice had entered the political world and advanced to the position of secretary of state thanks to efforts triple that of a normal person as well as her own talent. After undermining her psychological defenses, Wen stressed that China's passage of the Anti-Secession Law was aimed at Taiwanese independence forces, and that he hoped the US would understand, respect and support China's legislative action.
Wen also launched a mild attack by saying that when he met US President George W. Bush during his visit to the US in December 2003, Bush gave his unambiguous support to the "one China" policy and stated unequivocal opposition to Taiwanese independence.
He also said that the success of the visit was closely connected to Rice's hard work, and that he was grateful for the efforts made by Bush, the US government and Rice. Faced with such flattery, Rice could hardly respond with strong language.
But if we take a look behind the official facade, we see that all is not sweetness and light. Dissident writer Liu Xiao-po reviewed over 800 postings discussing Rice's visit between March 16 and March 20. He found almost one-tenth of these contained racial slurs against Rice, while only five objected to racism. The fact that these obscene and hateful slurs relating to Rice's race and her gender, along with a strong undercurrent of anti-Americanism, have been allowed to remain posted on the Internet, while no attempt was made to arrest the perpetrators, can only suggest that these sentiments are officially condoned, or even actively encouraged.
They are clearly using the Internet to fan the flames of anti-American nationalism. With such netizens backed up by the government, can the US really expect to engage China as "a confident and good partner" in addressing regional and international problems? And can Taiwan have any hope of goodwill from China?
Lin Feng is a political commentator based in New York.
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