Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – Taiwan’s Democracy, the U.S. Pledge, and the Chinese Communist Party’s Constant Nightmare – “Freedom”

Regarding the editorial in the Sunday Taipei Times (“The Liberty Times Editorial: Opportunities and independence”, Jul 16, 2017 – Page 6), and speaking of the U.S. position on Taiwan’s independence, the paper notes “Therefore, arms sales to Taiwan, but failure to support its independence is a curious mix-and-match of action and rhetoric.”

Actually, if one thinks about it, this is not so curious. Failing to support independence out loud is not opposing it, even if those words come out of some official’s mouth at some point, because at its root, opposition to independence is not the policy of the U.S., it is merely a tool aimed at defusing a flash point with an arch enemy with nuclear weapons.

However….there is a time to every purpose, and war between the U.S. and China is the potential result of a declaration of independence by Taiwan unless it is the right time, so it is a matter of great importance that the time be right.

What does that mean? It is not so easy to define the right time, or pinpoint. It does depend on the steady progress of Taiwan towards being de facto recognized around the world out loud as a democratic nation on its own, and it could also depend on the resolve of the people of Taiwan. Few believe Taiwanese are willing to take up arms and fight Chinese soldiers in the streets of Taiwan. They say, this is 2017, who does such things, or would want to?

In history, including recent history, there have been very few declarations of independence not accompanied by bloodshed – no country’s overseer will so easily give up its captive.

The U.S. fought a long and very bloody Revolutionary War 241 years ago propelling the U.S. into history and George Washington into the Presidency. In the course of the 8 years of war against England, over 30,000 civilians lost their lives, and there were over 200,000 military casualties. The result was “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” The bloodshed and resulting democracy has served as a beacon of freedom for billions in the centuries following. Are Taiwanese willing to shed their blood for this?

I think in civil society today, we do everything we can to avoid such conflict, though evil revels in blood and gore, as Tiananmen Square, the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap and so many other horrific events in Communist China have shown. It also revels in intimidation.

The result? The “One-China policy” that acknowledges that this is what Communist China says, and that the U.S. has its own idea about that. And the purpose of the ambiguity is to allow the U.S. to stand behind Taiwan, firmly, and between Taiwan and Communist China, firmly, and protect Taiwan with the full power and beauty of the U.S. Constitution and the principles of freedom and democracy now inherent in Taiwan’s system of government, and wait for the right time to help bring Taiwan into the family of recognized democratic nations, which it truly already de facto is.

All of the machinations dealing with Taiwan’s de facto independence are designed to avoid a war between two nuclear powers, especially with a North Korean powder-keg sitting just a few clicks away. We have seen how Communist China deals with resistance historically, by its brutality in Tibet and Hong Kong. The U.S. did not stand behind Tibet and wag its finger, having just completed the Korean War a few years earlier. Genocide through eugenics has ensued in Tibet. The U.K. does not have the muscle to stand behind Hong Kong even though Communist China recently stated that the 50-year agreement between the UK and Communist China no longer applies – in other words, England has no power to enforce it, so too bad, Hong Kong’s One Country-Two Systems system is now One Country-One System.

But the U.S., recognizing the tremendously important role that Taiwan plays in ensuring Asia’s democratic existence, and the beauty and grace in having its democracy flourish, and having the same freedoms as exist in the U.S. in Taiwan for its 23 million people, does stand behind Taiwan and wag its finger at Beijing and say “don’t even think of it, buddy”. It has not yet become “Make my day, punk,” but it is implicit in the military presence in China’s neighborhood, and projection of the U.S. military might around the world.

Despite the bellicosity of PLA (People’s Liberation Army) generals, China’s military is no match for the battle-hardened U.S. military might, and for all those nay-sayers in the U.S. who complain about its defense budget, it is like the defense budget for the entire free world (because as we know well, Europe is not going to mount a military that can fulfill that role) and that gives the U.S. power to keep democracy vital and dominant, protecting the freedoms of the people of the U.S., and its friends, despite the efforts of the world’s worst totalitarian regimes, from Communist China to Russia, to Iran to North Korea to Venezuela to Cuba to  those in the Middle East.

Were the U.S. to back off Taiwan, I don’t want to think of the consequences. Our law provides support for Taiwan, laws which always pass with overwhelming support in Congress. Presidents follow diplomatic niceties, but the U.S. Congress does not have to follow suit. Few in the U.S. speak glowingly of a unified Communist China and Taiwan. An overwhelming majority acknowledge that Taiwan is already a democratic nation whose own Constitution provides in Article One it is a nation with a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

That is the basic foundation of Taiwan today. And it is the basic foundation of Charter 08, offered in 2008 by Liu Xiaobo and his co-writers as the foundation for a future China. Imagine that. Taiwan is the example of what the people of Communist China can look forward to. No wonder the Chinese Communist Party is so damn afraid of tiny Taiwan. And no wonder the Chinese Communist Party is so damn afraid of India, a great U.S. ally and a democratic nation of more than one billion people – demonstrating that the Chinese Communist Party’s argument that China is too big for democracy is nonsense.

To answer the question inherent in the editorial, the democracy and independence dance is not only a dance between Communist China and Taiwan, truly of necessity for Taiwan’s benefit and survival. If it were, it would be a very short and painful dance. It is a very complicated dance and the dance floor is quite crowded, and Communist China is by far not the dancer with the biggest footprint and most destructive kick, and while the U.S. is dancing far from home, Communist China knows that doesn’t mean a thing after over 100 years of projecting power for good across the oceans and seas to stand behind freedom against oppression whenever and wherever it is found.

Also, while the dance is going, and it is going, Taiwan is evolving, and as the pro-Communist China KMT is in steep decline, Taiwan is edging closer and closer to fully realizing the power of those words above…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a nation “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Assimilate that, Chairman Xi and your Chinese Communist Party, anachronisms of despair from the 20th Century, and hollow wraiths in the shadow of Taiwan’s massively free and beautiful society.

North Korean Nuclear Debacle is Iran’s Debacle in Waiting

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke.

President Clinton was so eager to resolve the Korean nuclear threat, I believe he was willing to sign an agreement with North Korea written in snow and accept mist in promises. It would seem the negotiating team (part of whom were also amazingly brought in by President Obama for the Iran negotiations) were outclassed, outsmarted and outwitted. To the extent any person outside China actually believed China had or has any interest whatsoever in ending North Korea’s program, they are sadly misinformed. Communist China has directly benefited from North Korea’s bad acts for twenty years, and has continued to expertly play US presidents like fiddles, including Clinton, Bush, Obama and now Trump.

If there is no diplomatic solution now outside Communist China, one can look to the previous administrations for blame, each having to some degree allowed Communist China to have its way with them instead of taking steps to actually put an end to Korea’s nuclear program. It is too late now. With an ICBM in the oven, and hardened facilities under mountains and underground, there is little that can be done short of decapitation or immediate regime change, and even in that case, there is no telling what would follow the end of the Kim dynasty.

North Korea violated its Agreement during negotiations, while it was being drafted, moments after it was signed, and every day since then.

The trouble is, at the beginning, there was far more of a chance to take military action to stop North Korea from actually developing nuclear weapons technology and the weapons themselves, and with each succeeding year it became more difficult. Nothing was accomplished during the Bush Administration, and the final nails in the nuclear coffin were put in place during President Obama’s Oppeasement foreign policy debacle, repeated in rushed negotiations in horrible detail with Iran before Obama left office, a gift so to speak that will keep on giving for decades, and the full effect of which has not yet been felt around the world when Iran becomes a nuclear power (as it will under the dubious agreement).

Communist China and North Korea have played this game well for such a long time. CCP leaders pretend to call out North Korea, even vote in favor or abstain from heavy sanctions, but secretly violate those sanctions almost immediately. They call for patience, negotiations, peace in the region (for instance calling for cessation to joint military exercises between the US and South Korea), all as part of this grand scheme and game. Whenever Communist China needs a threat, it just winks at North Korea, and missiles are aloft, and dire warnings come from Beijing (“Woe is us, woe is us, what are we to do? Peace, negotiate, leave it to us”). This is usually followed by laughter in the CCP’s lair.

China will continue to prop up North Korea, secretly or otherwise, because it is the most useful tool in keeping the US in check, achieving its goals regarding Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, the South China sea, human rights, and a host of other issues it wishes the US to stay away from.

The longer we play this game of loser’s chess, the worse the situation grows. Pretending to be the peacemaker (and the environmentalist and the voice of reason and the next great source of trade and money) is China’s long term strategy to relegate the US to a back seat to its hegemony and intentions to remake the world in its own totalitarian image. North Korea is simply a tool in that game.

Just as Clinton did 25 years ago, Obama began the game with Iran several years ago. It does not end well. It never does, particularly when it is played by the JV team (led by President Obama whistling Kumbaya, Kerry and his merry band of fools and appeasers) and the quintessential flim-flam men from Iran. There was no contest. And now, President Obama, having been intent on singing Kumbaya instead of ending Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, and having prevented destruction of Iran’s facilities after developing the weapons to do so while it was actually possible, has ensured we are stuck with a nuclear Iran, something that can lead to disaster.

Good men doing nothing. This is the hallmark of diplomacy for the past twenty five years. When will anyone learn?

China’s One Belt One Road One Noose One Way

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) weekend forum for his One Belt One Road [One Noose One Way] project just ended. As with anything orchestrated by Communist China, there are dangers and intrigue inherent in the plans and the strategy, because it is China’s ambition to purchase influence and fealty around the globe, a kind of immunization against any discussion of its totalitarian system of oppression, hegemony and its plan to remake the world with Chinese Characteristics. Xi, as always, spoke “sincerely” of “mutual respect of one another’s sovereignty, territory and “core interests.” This is one of the key dogmas in China’s initiative of One Belt One Road [One Noose One Way].

A thorough article for Reuters/Beijing (‘Silk Road’ plan stirs unease over China’s strategic goals, Taipei Times, Mar. 6, 2017, p. 9) sets out some of the practical concerns the international community may have about the plan. The article mentions that “Xi’s speech also drew implicit contrast between Chinese-style development objectives and those of the West, saying the initiative will not resort to ‘outdated geopolitical maneuvering’.”

Together, these two points mean that China’s strategy is to hide the evil inherent in the Chinese Communist Party’s one-party dictatorship rule over China in plain view by “suggesting” for the millionth time that countries must respect sovereignty, territory (in other words China will claim whatever territory it deems part of China, including Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the South China Sea, parts of the Moon and possibly Mars if it can get there first) and “core interests”, which means don’t even think of messing around with the CCP’s suppression of all freedoms in Communist China or trying to introduce democracy, human rights or justice there anytime soon, or fail to intone the One China Policy.

Xi’s project will throw tens of billions of dollars at needy or greedy countries willing to do business with the devil, kneel to the devil, and, unbeknownst to them, invite the devil to dinner and get on the Silk Road which is a one-way ticket to Hell. China’s currency has always been propaganda and blackmail. If you want Kommunist Kash, you have to pretend One China is true, even though the world knows Taiwan is not part of Communist China, and that China is not the world’s worst offender of human rights in the universe. For the right amount of Kash, or pretend effort to reign in North Korea, it seems to be no problem for Europe and even for Trump.

“The Chinese government has never wished to control any other country’s government,” according to Ou Xiaoli (歐曉理), a Chinese Cabinet official. Except controlling Taiwan. And Tibet. And Hong Kong. And the South China Sea. And all references to the one-party system in China. And talking about the Great Firewall of China. And Falun Gong. And the Chinese Catholic Church. And the Dalai Lama – and Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the kidnapped real Panchen Lama and the Chinese Communist Party replacement fake Panchen Lama. And North Korea. And Japan. And Democracy. And Human Rights, whatever those are. And Censorship. And Freedom of Speech. And freedom of religion. And due process, whatever that is. And speaking ill of the Chinese Communist Party revolution.

The article notes that “China often is the only entity willing to finance big projects in poor countries. That gives Beijing leverage to require use of Chinese builders and technology.” This is good old-fashioned Colonization with Chinese Characteristics. China will go into a poor country, give the corrupt leadership Kommunist Kash with no strings attached (other than those mentioned in the previous paragraph), but no requirements that the government of the new “colony” be democratic or practice human rights, whatever those are, or benefit the people of the country, rape the natural resources China needs to take, bring in multitudes of Chinese workers under CCP control to do the work, and add another “ally” to the list of who will vote blindly for anything China wishes. Perhaps ultimately we will see a United Chinese Union which will be comprised of all these “colonies” that China has acquired using Kommunist Kash, which will become a bloc of anti-western democratic principles and human rights, whatever those are, and pro-Chinese socialism with Chinese Characteristics, which means an alternate world of dictatorship and tyranny, a silent and impotent United Nations (sort of like today) controlled by China and its allies, the Diktator’s Klub.

One Belt One Road [One Noose One Way] is an insidious very long-term strategy to infect many nations around the globe with China’s own brand of governing and civil society from within, a creeping, silent and devastating darkness designed to cripple democracy and dissent, destroy justice and freedom, and strangle human rights. Xi simply wishes to create a world just like China in each and every country. We simply must not allow it.

China, the World’s Second Most Powerful Country, Operates in Secret

Doug Bandow wrote an excellent article regarding the need for transparency in China’s politics in Sunday’s newspaper (“China politics need transparency” P. 6, http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2017/05/14/2003670538). One cannot agree more.

However, while we may hope for such transparency, there is much to fear from China’s rise, which despite Xi Jinping’s smiling assurances, is anything but peaceful, and promises to be a full on attempt to create anti-US sentiment, sell China as a “peaceful” replacement superpower, increase China’s propaganda and blackmail, draw trade to China without offering equal opportunities to foreign business in China, and create more and more Chinese cultural, political, financial, technological and diplomatic viruses, insidious, long-term, subtle tentacles designed to slowly infect the world with China’s totalitarian form of existence, its intolerant view of the separation between government and the daily life and thoughts of common people, and its “everything with Chinese characteristics”.

As I wrote recently, the One Belt One Road project is nothing more than a Chinese noose designed to ensnare all who come to play on the new Silk Road and weave China into the fabric of every single country participating, essentially making trade (and hence diplomacy) seamless between them and one of the world’s worst serial violators of human rights, justice, and freedom, and friend to evil regimes around the world. But you will not hear much from these governments about that, because of the enormous trade potential China dangles before them, and its “conditions”, otherwise known as strings, for being allowed to feed at China’s trough. Those strings require obedience to China’s “core interests”, which mean respecting its hegemony and totalitarianism, and suppression of all freedom in China and following its instructions regarding Taiwan, Tibet and Hong Kong.

Mr. Bandow mentions the coming transfer of power in China and the re-election of Xi Jinping (習近平). However, it is the next transfer of power in 5 years that will be most telling. Xi is only 63 at present, which will make him 68 for the next transfer. One might ask, running the world’s second largest economy and military, why do we know the outcome of the election, even if secret? It would appear, following his consolidation of power, such that he now maintains the three most powerful positions in China, head of the Party, head of the government and head of the military, that Xi’s eye is on another 10 year term following the end of his first ten years. What happens in the next five years regarding Party high echelons will give a clue, not polls of voters or campaign speeches or promises. As Mr. Bandow notes, the process by which this would happen is completely hidden. It is the nature of Beijing’s survival all these years, squelching discussion of internal matters, and filtering discussion of external facts. Suppression is in the Chinese Communist Party’s DNA.

As Mr. Bandow observed regarding the opaqueness of this process, “It is a bad system for the PRC and the rest of the world.”

As for hoping for change, one need only look at the treatment by Beijing of Hong Kong and Taiwan to see the nature of the Chinese Communist Party’s dictatorial rule and utter refusal to allow even the slightest deviation from the CCP’s absolute power, though Taiwan, a completely independent democratic nation of 23 million requires continued support from the free world to keep out of reach of China’s claws.

China’s system of baiting foreign investors and companies to trade with China and do business there also involves unfairly treating them, targeting them, favoring local companies, watching over their theft of those foreign companies’ IP and assets, with the Party’s complete control of the outcome of any litigation, as the Courts are merely an extension of the Communist Party. The more trade with China, the more dangerous the outcome for any trade partner, as trade can be reduced as the Communist Party directs in order to squeeze any trading partner.  South Korea realized this when China cut tourism 40% when South Korea bought the THAAD system. Taiwan is also an example, where election of the opposition independence-minded DPP party resulted in China closing most avenues for benefit from doing business with China (e.g. tourism, trade, allowing Taiwan international space).

Clearly, as I have seen from watching China’s “rise”, it is willing only to imitate those foreign indicia of “freedom” without understanding them or meaning them, while quietly continuing its brutality, and making a show of liberalizing its economy and its government, while not effecting any real change at all, and having beguiled nations to try to make money from China’s trade, but forcing them to intone Beijing’s mantras, and look the other way as the price of getting their hands on Kommunist Kash. As China gets more and more international recognition as a major player in world affairs, it will become harder and harder to hold off its march against democracy and freedom.

Mr. Bandow has hit the nail on the head. China has great potential, but the lure of absolute power is very difficult to resist, and even more difficult to give up, especially for a government accustomed to simply getting and taking what it wants.

Beijing’s Trojan Horse Strategy – foreign college campuses, Chinese non-profits, Hollywood acquisitions and influence

Stephanie Saul’s article for the NY Times Service on Sunday describes Beijing’s use of Chinese students studying abroad and the Chinese Students and Scholars Association as one method for affecting the discussion on campuses in the United States, and elsewhere of Communist China and its policies.

In truth however, Beijing has been constructing these Trojan horses for decades. They take the form of Chinese student organizations, Confucius Institutes, and other organs which offer subtle propaganda to show Beijing’s supposedly kinder, gentler side, its “peaceful rise”.

But make no mistake. China’s aim is to squelch all discussion, all mention, all free speech about its evils. These Trojan horses are in fact filled to the brim with propaganda about how benign is Beijing’s dictatorship, its denial of all freedoms to its people, its oppression of its people, denial of justice, its absolute protection of Chinese companies over foreign companies doing business in China, its anti-democratic policies, hegemony, oppression of Hong Kong, hatred and genocide in Tibet and effort to smear, destroy and replace the Dalai Lama, its murder and abuse of Falun Gong followers, its South China Sea aggression, and its attempts to sideline Taiwan, render it invisible or irrelevant, and destroy Taiwan’s democracy, and most of all its intentions for world peace with Chinese Characteristics (which means peace on its terms, in other words “no peace”, a world led by China’s totalitarian system).

Communist China has vast plans in place to affect perceptions about it around the world, to infect public discourse about its tyranny by whatever means possible. Whether it takes the form of spying through acquisition of businesses (or in the case of Australia, leasing a port in Darwin for more than three hundred million Australian dollars close to an American military installation), or trying to filter any negative mention of China, usually imposing its will on those who fear losing money (as mentioned regarding Australia recently), but certainly true in Europe, Latin America and around the world. Any time a Chinese company (every company no matter private or government run is captive of the Beijing government’s control) attempts to acquire a foreign entity, there is usually a strategic reason for it tied in some way to expanding China’s influence in that area, or infecting the industry or commerce with pro-China influence, or spying.

In Stephanie Saul’s article, when reading it, I felt I was reading not about a student organization, but more about a Communist Chinese platform, a Trojan horse designed to affect free speech on American campuses (something popular these days among the politically correct ultra-left who also seek to squelch discussion of subjects and positions with which they disagree), to basically stop any campus organization or event from even mentioning the Chinese Communist Party’s pet sensitivities, Taiwan, the Dalai Lama and Tibet and China’s longstanding cultural genocide in Tibet, strict limitations on Hong Kong’s democracy, Falun Gong mistreatment and murder in China, Xinjiang’s muslim population and China’s attempts to destroy their culture there. These taboo subjects must be avoided in order to stay within Beijing’s good graces, and disobedience may result in China pulling back students and their foreign student tuition (much as China has done in Taiwan with not just education, but tourists, and business opportunities). The commercial blackmail is one of Beijing’s favorite intrigues.

The Trojan Horse is alive and well in Hollywood as well. Those studios needy enough to take Chinese funding suddenly self-censor so that no movie would dare put Beijing in a bad light (this is ironic considering Hollywood has no problem portraying American Presidents, and government officials, the CIA and FBI, and its military in a very bad light as part of many stories). Those studios selling larger stakes, close to being taken over, well, the censorship will be more direct. As for a Chinese company purchasing a major studio (such as China’s Wanda Group, which already acquired AMC and a piece of Legendary, tried to acquire Dick Clark Productions (including the Golden Globes), and was sniffing around Paramount Pictures), this would be a disaster of tremendous magnitude. Not only would this provide enormous power to the Communist Party regime, allowing it to hobnob with the elite in Hollywood, affecting Hollywood’s discussion of China’s brutality around the world, and its hegemony (Hollywood is quick to hate American government, making it ripe for acceptance of the sales talk by Beijing of its benign intentions), it would open the door to propaganda by the studio in the form of its by then major motion pictures portraying the free world poorly, and Communist China in illusions of grandeur and peace. Also, just to make the plan more horrifying, Beijing currently limits the number of foreign films it allows to be shown in China. A major studio would therefore be better off moving its movie-making to Wanda’s gigantic studio in China, completing the theft of international movie primacy, and killing jobs in Hollywood and the US.

Beijing’s cavalry of Trojan horses is on the march, and it is marching to a college or movie theater near you soon. I ask that you beware, and hold dear our hallowed principles of free speech and constitutional protections for freedom and free speech. Without that protection we are vulnerable to Beijing’s insidious Trojan horse machinations.

Democracy with Chinese Characteristics

There are those in Taiwan who clamor for unification with Communist China, many of whom believe Taiwan is already unified with it, others who go on about the Republic of China, as though it is a breathing living thing and not the deceased remnants of the Guomindang (KMT) never to rule as the “legitimate” China.

Beijing sits on the dock dangling unification and “One Country-Two Systems” in the water as bait, expecting Taiwanese, who already live and breathe freely, as freely as any democratic system in the world, to bite. Only the delusional KMT die-hard will go for this. One need only look at Hong Kong for the truth of what One Country Two Systems really means. In Hong Kong it is almost impossible for a supporter of democracy to prevail in any election (which is ironic, considering it is supposedly a democratic election), and if a maverick manages to get elected, they face imprisonment for any number of the usual charges the Communist Party uses to get rid of annoying upstarts who go on about such things as freedom, human rights, due process, or democracy.

For an explanation of this phenomenon, one must look at the Chinese Communist Party Manual of Commonly Misunderstood Terms to see the definition of One Country Two Systems: “One country only, China, and China decides everything”. For clarification, it is important to also take note of the Manual’s definition of “Democracy”, which is primarily “the right to vote for whomever the Communist Party tells you to vote for, or else.” and secondarily, “No Democracy”.

In Hong Kong, recent events tell us that getting elected as a democrat will result in arrest because the Chinese Communist Party (“CCP”) cannot allow the Hong Kong Legislative Council to be muddied by democracy, or dissent. The only acceptable legislative body in Hong Kong is one that obeys the CCP without dissent.

One Country Two Systems, like the ROC, is a mirage, a delusion floated by the CCP as bait to catch Taiwanese who want to believe they are part of something bigger than Taiwan, without ever realizing Taiwan is enough by itself. Better to be a smaller excellent democracy than a huge totalitarian behemoth chewing up freedom and spitting out oppression. No one should aspire to be China, least of all Taiwanese, who already live in one of Asia’s most vibrant democratic systems.

Welcome

Strait Talk discusses issues affecting Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Tibet, the United States specifically, and Asia and other related world issues in general. The content is intended to focus on government, democracy, justice, freedom and a host of other issues in a frank, and at times ironic way. Please bring your sense of humor for a visit.

Rational and reasonable discussion is welcomed. Trolls are not.