Saturday, September 01, 2007

Lost: The Bush Administration Version

My family finally got hold of season 3 of Lost, which we've been watching closely. You might recall the show. It's about of group of outsiders whom fate strands on an island with only limited access to the outside world, full of people who speak cryptically, tropical fruit, computer equipment, and hot women, and all sorts of bizarre things happen to them.

The parallels are uncanny.

Thursday the Theatre of the Absurd reached a new height as the White House put more pressure on Taiwan, showing that, as the Nelson Report the other day made clear, State and the White House are in lockstep on the Taiwan issue:

A senior White House official on Thursday called Taiwan's planned referendum on joining the United Nations "perplexing," saying it adds unnecessary tension to regional relations.

"Membership in the United Nations requires statehood. Taiwan, or the Republic of China, is not at this point a state in the international community," National Security Council senior director for Asian affairs Dennis Wilder said.

"So we find the attempts by the DPP (Democratic Progressive) Party in Taiwan to call for a referendum of this subject a little bit perplexing as to why this would be useful, given the fact that Taiwan is not going to be able to join the United Nations under current circumstances, and that it only adds a degree of tension to cross-straits relations that we deem unnecessary."

On Thursday Lin Chia-lung, secretary general of the ruling DPP, hit back at an earlier condemnation of the referendum plan by US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who called it a provocative step toward declaring full independence -- a highly sensitive issue, as China insists Taiwan is part of its territory.

"Taiwan stands on the just and right side while a few US officials will be judged by history," said Lin.

"We hope the US would respect Taiwan's mainstream public opinion and not bow to pressure from the Chinese communists."

Nietzsche once remarked that whoever has character has a defining experience, that recurs repeatedly. Clearly US-Taiwan relations are marked by strong character. We went through this last year when Chen shut down the National Reunification Council, with its annual budget of $30, and the US massively overreacted -- and Chen failed to inform the US of what he was doing -- and the US accused Chen of breaking his promises, though he hadn't -- and the DPP replied in injured tones, and Taiwan's friends rolled their eyes at everyone's silliness. Been there, done that.

Why is the US reacting so? Probably because Beijing is pushing them, but also because it is justifiably angry that Chen Shui-bian once again made an international move without informing them. That's the Chinese Boss mentality at work in Chen -- I'm the boss, so I make the decisions, and I'll tell you when I want to. Wrong move.

Meanwhile the Bush Administration has completely fallen into line with China's media theatre. "Unnecessarily adding to tensions." Tensions? Today thousands of Taiwanese travelers will enter China. Hundreds will establish new businesses. Many will ship money in and out. Products of Taiwanese businesses will flow out of China, and raw materials will be transported in. Taiwanese entertainers will give performances, and tourists from the island freely move all over China.

Yup. Sure sucks when things are tense.

UPDATE: US China Caucus co-chair says if UN referendum passes it will be causus belli.


TicoExpat said...

Many years ago, when I was in highschool, and we studied United States history, our teacher pointed out that the US alternated between periods of islolation and expansion, usually choosing isolation at the worst possible moments, i.e. right before WWII -if I recall correctly.

Could it be that they are ready to crunch and go back into a collective shell -or as one of my US uncles puts it, "if they want us to defend them, they have to pay up first"?

As much as I dislike the Bush administration rethoric on this UN issue, I am also lead to believe that it has more to do with the fact that they just have too much on their plates, and no pleas of democracy or justice can go through when the bottom line is crimson red.

Tim Maddog said...

Michael, you said:
- - -
Tensions? [...] Taiwanese travelers will enter China. [...] establish new businesses [...] ship money in and out. [...] Taiwanese entertainers [...] tourists from the island freely move all over China.
- - -

Then you updated:
- - -
... it will be causus belli.
- - -

No tensions? And whose casus belli? It sounds like Forbes is making a pre-emptive excuse on China's behalf.

BTW, those Taiwanese entertainers go to China with lots of restrictions placed upon them. Remember Rainie Yang's (楊承琳) forced apology for understating China's suffering -- during a "quiz" on Jacky Wu's show? That's but a peek behind the curtain of what goes on in that industry.

And despite the financial seduction, the risk is much worse for the many Taishang (台商) who have been held by the Chinese government, often without reason. Not only are their many limits placed upon them, but their lives and financial well-being are often also endangered in their pursuit of the big bucks. Look what happened to Mitsukoshi's general manager Steven Wu (吳昕達) -- he was "detained by his Chinese partners" over a "business dispute." (I'm told that it's much worse than what the Taipei Times reported -- that all of the Taiwanese employees were fired and that Wu had to give up his entire stake in the China side of the business just to get back to Taiwan safely. Here's a link to another article.)

There are indeed tensions, but they are all caused by China (with their missiles and "anti-secession" law) and the US (with its "damned if you do, damned if you don't" attitudes towards Taiwan.

Tim Maddog

Anonymous said...

"Taiwan, or the Republic of China, is not at this point a state in the international community"

Nice. Wouldn't that be a catch 22? Any attempt for Taiwan or the Republic of China, to assert that it is a state as in fact it really is functioning as a state in international community, in terms of trade, global economy and all its disregarded global NGO and humanitarian activities at least, but not called as such, would be seem as provocative act of irresponsible cry baby that puts the world in danger by forcing the hand of the One and only China in history and space, which wouldn't tolerate any doubts on its claims on lands that it has never ruled for a single day, which has reached an consensus with someone in 1992 that changes every year afterward, which loves nothing more than to see American Imperialists nuked, at least in their fantasy, which is a peaceloving country that would feel deeply hurt if anyone interfere with its internal affairs of killing its own people, or at least the people it claims to own, except for Taiwan to continue to purchase pensioner weaponary from USA and USA only at exorbitant prices, yet as Taiwaneses displays formerly scraped US Navy WWII boiler ships in pride, changes law to accept American product with foolish smile, Americans still look at these annoying buggers as though they owe them debts of favors with total disregard of their appeal for democracy, peace, justice except when they are looking for a good laugh or to warn against any so called attempt to change status quo on part of Taiwan, turning a blind eye when China redfines the so called status quo everyday. This is so bizarre, it makes someone feel like blabbering. businesses... and tourists from the island freely move all over China.

and getting robbed.

Anonymous said...

Could it be that they are ready to crunch and go back into a collective shell -or as one of my US uncles puts it, "if they want us to defend them, they have to pay up first"?

Na, last time we did that something called great depresion happened. Although, you could be right because the current economy of the states look very similar just before the crash.

From what I see right now, China will try to sanction Taiwan economically before the real invasion. However, I am not smart enough to see how it could be done. I do believe that it will involve large US hedge funds though i.e. Blackstone, Fortress, etc that are currently under Chinese influence.