Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A free China...

...doesn't mean a friend, argues James Pinkerton in an editorial in Newsday. Now I rarely read Newsday but the headline of this piece caught my eye at RealClearPolitics.

Frankly, the piece was a waste of time.

Here in China, absent honest elections, there's no way to know the truth for sure, but it seems apparent that the party's single biggest foreign-policy plank - the reincorporation of Taiwan back into "The Motherland" - is a political winner among ordinary Chinese.

Ok. fine.

Which is to say, the United States, which supports Taiwan's continued independence, has probably found itself on the wrong side of China's emerging political majority.

And, your point?

Indeed, America seems to have done even more to alienate mainland Chinese opinion. George W. Bush lobbied strenuously to preserve the arms embargo enacted by the United States and the European Union against China 16 years ago. But the EU decided to lift its embargo anyway - yet another reminder that democratic countries can choose to take anti-American positions.

We stand with a thriving democracy vs. a vicious totalitarian regime. And the French want to sell arms. Maybe because Pinkerton is writing in China, he hasn't seen or heard much about the persecution of Falun Gong...

So what will happen to Taiwan? The Chinese say they don't want a war for reunification. But at the same time, they have made it clear that they expect the Taiwan issue to be settled, in their favor. And even if the Chinese Communist Party were to disappear tomorrow, it's hard to imagine a popular government giving up on regaining Taiwan and staying popular.

The risk of war with a non-Communist government would be much lower, plus peaceful re-unification would have a much better chance without [six decades] of Communist saber-rattling.

Democracy is a great goal. However, there are other goals in politics, such as security and prosperity. The Chinese seem to have stumbled onto a political formula that provides increased wealth and well-being without much political freedom.

Security and prosperity over democracy. Sounds like the argument made by every despot and the American Left. China's monstrous internal issues--scores of millions of migrant laborers, stratospheric percentage of non-performing loans--are being masked by a phenomenal rate of growth. Which won't last forever and then this formula won't look very good.

Americans might lament China's undemocratic status quo, but we might lament even more the altering of that status quo.

I doubt it.

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