The Bombs in Belgrade Echo Over the Taiwan Straits
not be misled! The Chinese government is not marshaling a campaign
against NATO's attack on its Embassy in Belgrade. Beijing is engaged
in a specially choreographed "spontaneous" demonstration
as a prelude of things to come. President Jiang Tse-min is telegraphing
a message to Washington D.C. That any attack on China, including
the military support of Taiwan against Chinese military pressure,
will result in massive uprisings against Americans residing on
is incredible to me that no one has pointed out Beijing's manipulation
of its people for diplomatic purposes. For example, in 1992, the
Emperor of Japan was planning to visit China. Emperor Akihito,
son of the wartime Emperor Hirohito, was seeking to build up a
better relationship to China. Prior to his arrival, the Chinese
government announced a social worker from central China to draft
up a petition of over a million people. They demanded an apology
from Japan, reparations, and the return of a disputed island to
the Chinese motherland. Curiously enough, the petition, which
received great TV publicity, was signed by Chinese who had not
suffered from or suffered very little from the Japanese invasion
of China. During my interviews in the northeast of China, which
was the seat of the Japanese colony of Manchuko and the territory
where Japan experimented with biological and chemical warfare,
the Chinese citizens expressed very little concern about the visit.
They were not willing to hold Hirohito's son responsible for the
war, and they doubted that any reparation money would be invested
in their region. They actually wanted to improve trade relationships
with Japan, and hoped that this campaign would not sully their
chances for economic growth.
and behold, after much coverage of this nationalistic and patriotic
campaign, just a few days before the Emperor's visit, the petition's
organizer was sent back to his home in Chungqing, in Central China.
The government had achieved its objectives. It had shown Japan
that it could rally over a million Chinese to express their anti-Japanese
spirit. During the Emperor's visit, there were no demonstrations,
no rallies, no negative press. This whole media affair was a warning
current calls for "blood for blood," and "down
with American fascism" are not inspired and fueled solely
by the war in Yugoslavia. A much more important issue is at stake-the
return of Taiwan to China. In 1996, the People's Liberation Army
moved over 150,000 troops to the coastline of the Taiwan Straits
to launch a mock invasion of the island. Premier Li Peng declared
that Taiwan is part of China, and that China's has the right to
use force if necessary to recover the Island.
struggle over Taiwan takes many forms. Recently the country of
Macedonia terminated its diplomatic recognition of China in favor
of recognizing Taiwan (the Republic of China). Beijing reacted
by opposing the continuation of UN security personnel in Macedonia.
is very clear to China that America's support of Kosovo against
Belgrade is a precedent for supporting Taiwan against China. If
NATO is willing to bomb Serbia to keep Kosovo autonomous or independent
from Belgrade, then what would the United States and its Asian
allies do to support the "renegade" province of Taiwan?
The answer is clear.
the demonstrations against the bombing of the Chinese Embassy
in Belgrade are really a campaign to show what would happen if
America supported Taiwan.
the administration has comforted China by pulling back support
of Taiwan. President Clinton has denied Taiwan's request for essential
military equipment, including radar tracking systems. New U.S.
advisors and government leaders prefer to accommodate China because
Beijing offers them many more opportunities for business growth
and military cooperation than the small market of Taiwan. Some
commentators have focused on the effect of the bombing on the
issue of China's entrance into the World Trade Organization. Although
this issue is very important to Beijing, it is small in comparison
to the nationalistic issue of reclaiming Taiwan.
among academic advisors, there is a shift away from defending
Taiwan's democratic and economic success. Professor Michael Oksenberg,
a professor at Stanford University and former National Security
Council member, argues that the U.S.-Taiwan relationship has not
been "a reciprocal" one, because Taiwan has received
"far more from the United states politically and strategically
than it has contributed to American interests." [quoted in
Living with China. WW. Norton, 1997, pp73-74.]
Chinese have taken advantage of the bombing to suspend talks with
Washington D.C. on human rights and on security issues. This show
of anger is nothing more than a precursor of China's actions if
and when we choose to support Taiwan against China's plans to
retrieve its "renegade" province. Anyone who believes
that China's economic progress is linked to either its democratic
development or its commitment to a peaceful international order
should look closely at the carefully choreographed violence and
vulgar projections of nationalism in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu,
Nanjing, Guangzhou, and on China's official media. China's arguments
in the Security Council regarding the Serbia's national sovereignty
and America's "fascist" attacks are really rehearsals
for defending their claims to treat Taiwan any way they want.