Sunday, November 8, 2015

First Meeting Since 1949 - Why is China Making Nice to the Country it Wants to Own?

I was born in 1949, the same year that China's revolution was won by Mao and the Communist party took over this giant country. Chang Kai Shek, who was part of the allied effort during World War II, fled to the island off its coast called "Taiwan" and formed a government that picks its leaders by a democratic vote. 

65 years after its formed, the Peoples Republic of China is still a one-party state. It still considers Taiwan a "breakaway" province that should be under its rule (like Hong Kong) instead of being independent.  But Taiwanese people are having none of it, since they have seen how Hong Kong's democracy has turned out after the PRC took control. Hong Kong people get to vote only for leaders picked by Beijing, not by them. Student and public protests last year to let the people chose got nowhere.

Taiwan's leader, Mr. Ma, was raised in Hong Kong (which China got back from England in 1997) and has been trying to get close to China but it appears that the people of China are wary of doing that, so wary that it appears they will elect the opposition party next January, 2016. The opposition wants Taiwan independence maintained.

I have been to China and Taiwan, and even made friends with officials on each side. 

China has gone from the backwards place with empty streets and low-technology that I saw in 1982 and write about in "Better Times Ahead April Fool" to an advanced country with Bullet Trains and MagLev fastest-train-in-the-world, and a space program that will eventually pass our own. That’s the good part.
                                                           Above: Author, Michael Fjetland, in Hong Kong, 1984
The bad part is that it has also become a regional bully that has been building up islands in the South China sea--so it can claim vast mineral deposits of oil etc beneath the sea. The U.S. sent a destroyer within 12 miles of one of these “manufactured” islands to show that we stand for “freedom of the seas.” China is still mad about it.

China has to be dealt with as a country whose economy is about to overtake ours as the largest on the planet. It has nuclear weapons, and missiles aimed at Taiwan, just a few miles off its coast. It’s still a country run by a bunch of old men in back rooms, with party cadres getting rich off their connections –just like in the old days when Mao still ruled. Corruption is king and democracy and free flow of information is blocked. I couldn’t even access Facebook or twitter when I was back in China in 2012.

Taiwan is still the underdog, which China has kicked to the curb globally to keep it from being recognized as an independent country. It was kicked out of the UN and most countries cut relations with it and embraced the PRC as the sole representative for the “Chinese.” In the USA, Taiwan’s representation is not by an “embassy” or “consulate” as every other country, but asEconomic and Cultural Representative Office.”

We need to support Taiwan as part of the Asian countries that are all being bullied by China – including Vietnam, the Philippines, etc.  Improving our trade ties with these countries will also lessen their dependence on “the Big Dragon to the north.”

Yet, my Asian connections tell me that nationalism is growing out of hand in these countries also, making a future war in Asia a real possibility. It could make our troubles in the Middle East seem tame in comparison.

China has had a global plan to dominate trade and buy up all the rare earth minerals that are needed to make high-tech weaponry. Our Congress has no plans and can’t even make see past a week ahead.

Keep your eye on China and developments in Asia. The TPP was designed to give future trade rules an American flavor instead of being dictated by the PRC –which is not interested in mutual gain.  I saw that as far back as my first negotiations in Beijing in 1982, which I wrote about.

Stay tuned..

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