An Editorial from the Taipei Times
The Crisis Of Our Own Making
By the Liberty Times editorial
Sunday, January 2, 2005, page 8
As China's National People's Congress prepares to review an anti-secession bill, Beijing has released a white paper on defense in which no effort was spared to intimidate Taiwan.
According to the white paper, "China will never allow anyone to split Taiwan from China in any manner or form. If the Taiwan regime boldly proceeds with a major independence campaign, the Chinese people and armed forces will do everything within their power to crush the plot with unwavering determination at all costs."
The simultaneous release of the white paper with the push for an anti-secession law suggests that Beijing is raising the heat against Taiwan using a threat of war to bully it into submission.
Since 1995, Beijing has released five defense white papers, three of which were released after Taiwan had its first transfer of political power in 2000 and a native consciousness became part of mainstream thinking.
The central theme in China's Taiwan policy has been none other than warning that once Taiwan declares its independence, the Chinese people will crush Taiwan's claim in order to protect Chinese sovereignty.
The threats and coercion contained in the white paper this time around are really no exception.
Yet there is no real change in the level of threatening language, so there is really nothing special about it.
However, the fact that the white paper has been released while Beijing is seeking to enact an anti-secession law does suggest there is growing worry in Beijing about the direction Taiwan is taking.
Thus, although China is unable to stop the trend toward self-determination displayed by the Taiwanese people, it is still vainly attempting to counter the popular will by turning up the volume with its threats.
Every step of the process by which Taiwanese seek to establish a normal country -- nativization, a referendum, arms procurements, name rectification and a new constitution -- was labeled by the white paper as "the obvious intensification of the Chen Shui-bian (???) regime's deliberate challenge to the status quo that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to the same `one China' and the movement toward Taiwan independence and the splitting of Taiwan from China."
The white paper went on to state that "[Chen] continually promotes the splittist stance of `one country on each side' of the Taiwan Strait, uses the referendum to engage in splittist activities, incites the people of the island [sic] to resent the Chinese mainland and purchases offensive arms on a large scale. It has not given up on heading for Taiwan's independence through drafting a so-called `new constitution of Taiwan' and is still waiting for the opportunity to instigate a major incident relating to Taiwan independence through so-called constitutional and political re-engineering."
The things that are being rejected and criticized by the white paper are the core of Taiwan's democratic reforms -- the most precious accomplishment in Taiwan's history.
The white paper essentially suggests that Taiwan can be free of Chinese threats only if it relinquishes democracy and its sovereign status, returns to the embrace of authoritarian rule and accepts the "one China" principle.
However, once Taiwan accepts the "one China" principle, and gives up its democratic reforms, it would be no different from returning to a prehistoric jungle and becoming the political, economic and cultural slave of China.
The livelihoods and lives of the Taiwanese would be comprehensively diminished as a result.
China released the white paper to give the impression that its military expansion is for the purpose of self-defense and that it will not constitute a threat to any other country.
That is to say, in addition to concocting a justification for military threats against Taiwan, the white paper further means to depict China as an angel of peace and so conceal its actual agenda of military expansion, thus easing the suspicions of other countries.
The white paper is filled with deceptive statistics and lacks credibility.
For example, the defense budget for last year is put at 211.7 billion yuan (US$25.66 billion), a 12.5 percent increase on the figure from 2003.
If this figure is right, then it would mark China as the country with the third-largest military expenditure, trailing only the US and Russia.
However, studies indicate that the defense budget announced by China is only part of the actual budget, and that the actual figure is much higher than the official figure.
It is believed that the real defense budget is three to five times greater than the figure released -- approximately 500 billion to 630 billion yuan. If these studies are accurate, then how can China only have the third-largest military expenditure in the world?
China has enormous military power, yet it has the audacity to accuse Taiwan of being a "troublemaker" and the "biggest threat and danger to peace and security in the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific region." What a charade.
The white paper also declares that China insists on a defensive military policy.
But if China had truly adopted a defensive policy, how does Beijing explain the military preparations it has made to engulf Taiwan?
Taiwan does not have the capability to invade China. If China did not intend to invade Taiwan, peace in the Taiwan Strait may be secured on a permanent basis. Under the circumstances, what kind of threat can possibly exist in the other direction?
Chinese military preparations to invade Taiwan and become a regional hegemon is the real source of tension and instability in the region.
The white paper brazenly says that "stopping Taiwan independence is the sacred duty of the Chinese military forces," and revisits the so-called "three absolutes" and "one never."
These are absolute opposition to any form of independence activities, absolute opposition to any country selling arms to Taiwan and absolute opposition to military alliances between Taiwan and any other country, as well as never allowing anyone to split Taiwan from China.
In a word, the target of the 30,000-word white paper is Taiwan. China does not even hide its intention to use force against Taiwan.
With such a severe threat hanging over it, Taiwan must give top priority to building up adequate defensive capabilities.
In view of recent developments in the international arena, the US' willingness to sell Taiwan advanced arms such as submarines, anti-submarine aircraft and Patriot missiles presents, therefore, an invaluable opportunity. Taiwan must seize this opportunity.
What is puzzling is the opposition lawmakers' boycott of arms purchases.
They refuse to even submit a budget for review. What a total and flagrant disregard of the interests of the people and the security of the country this represents.
As China homes in, Taiwan has been trapped by rivalry between the pan-green and pan-blue camps, delaying budget approval indefinitely.
Beijing's white paper is no cause for concern, regardless of how vicious its threats may sound.
It is the nonsensical standoff between the government and opposition that threatens to become the biggest crisis facing this nation.