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U.S. begins to understand the CCP
A few days ago, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, who is in charge of Asia-Pacific affairs, offered rare, strident and straight forward criticism of China's political, military and economic strategies and system, and he entreated China to turn toward democracy. News reports called it "maybe the bluntest statement about China's one-party dictatorship made by the Bush administration."
In order to co-opt Beijing, the US State Department has for many years described US-Chinese relations in smooth diplomatic language. But this can easily be misunderstood by the outside world and make Beijing think that it has succeeded with its cheating and tricks. It could also give the outside world the wrong idea about China's "peaceful" rising.
The change in the US' attitude can in fact already be seen in the recent cancellation of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit, and the meeting between US President George W. Bush and Hu in New York when an impatient Bush, with feigned politeness, offered direct and succinct criticism of China's human-rights situation. This does not mean the US is changing the way it deals with China, but rather that it is persisting in its own ideals in dealing with the country.
Only such a blunt approach will put pressure on China. Trade or money cannot be used to eliminate problems resulting from a difference in values, or force the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to improve its human-rights record and initiate political reform.
In response to Zoellick's criticism, foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said every country should build a harmonious society based on tolerance. But if diplomacy is an extension of domestic policy, we don't see the CCP showing any tolerance toward its citizens. Instead, it resorts to violence time and again. When the CCP calls for tolerance in its dealings with the outside world, it is but a lie aimed at winning it further benefits.
At a meeting with some of the participants to the 22nd Congress on the Law of the World in Beijing on Sept. 5, Hu said that, "we will continue to develop socialist democracy, perfect a democratic system, enrich the democratic form and guarantee that democratic elections, democratic decisions, democratic management and democratic supervision are implemented in accordance with the law."
He managed to cram seven references to democracy into one short sentence. So how come less than three weeks later he has given up on democracy and is doing all he can to protect the one-party dictatorship? Does he feel that since he can't bluff the US, there is no longer a need to sing the praises of democracy?
Although the US has seen through the dictatorial qualities innate to the CCP, it still seems to lack an understanding of Taiwan's domestic issues. This has an impact on finding solutions to the cross-strait issue. For example, the US thinks that the reason the arms-procurement bill still has not passed is because the government and opposition are colluding to avoid Taiwan's responsibilities, when the fundamental issue is that Taiwan's democratic institutions are still weak.
This problem includes dictatorial pressures from China and attempts to restore the old party-state system in Taiwan. To achieve this, some people do not shrink from leaning on the CCP's one-party dictatorship for support, making them the source of cross-strait disaster.
When former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan declared that he would join hands with the CCP to control Taiwan, he finally gave the game away. To manage this, the KMT has to suck up to China and treat the US as its enemy. The KMT is also doing all it can to upset relations between Taiwan and the US.
It cannot be denied that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lacks experience in government, including experience managing Taiwan's relationship with the US, and that when things are going well, it forgets itself and upsets the US. This, however, is a completely different issue than the problem with opposition politicians befriending the CCP and opposing the US.
Following Taiwan's presidential election last year, the New York Times organized a symposium. I highlighted the importance of relations between Taiwan and the US and said that if Taiwan is forced to seek help, it can only be from a democratic US and never the CCP's communist dictatorship. This so upset an American-Taiwanese academic who claimed to be friends with Lien that he began to recount how unreliable past US presidents had been and how they had betrayed Taiwan.
In February, this gentleman organized the world's first meeting in support of Lien staying on as KMT chairman, although he met with some opposition from some KMT members on the east coast of the US. Indeed, when it comes to the arms purchase, some pan-blue politicians have shown more flexibility than Lien. Unfortunately, they do not have the necessary vision and bravery, and as a result Taiwan's political situation continues to tread water, wasting valuable time. This also delays Taiwan's development toward becoming a normal democratic state.
KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng seem to deliberately paint themselves as pale blue, while People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong has abandoned the consensus he reached with President Chen Shui-bian, once again joining the ranks of the dark blue.
If Soong uses the arms bill and the year-end elections to blackmail Ma and Wang, will they then place the nation first, or will they look to individual and party interests and join the blue-turned-red anti-US ranks?
US policy toward Taiwan is not without problems, but it is definitely not a matter of betraying Taiwan. Rather, it is a matter of misunderstanding China and of pragmatic needs. If it really were betraying Taiwan, where would Taiwan be today? Some of those who so forcefully oppose the US and the arms bill are in fact trying to be China's supporters and attempting to change the status quo. That is something we must all be aware of.
Paul Lin is a political commentator based in New York.
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