Barrelled Thoughts #10

Thursday, August 6, 2009

“Some in America think that there is something to fear in a rising China. I take a different view.”
— President Barack Obama, speaking at the start of high-level discussions with Beijing last week – Newsweek, August 10 & 17, 2009

I’ve started reading Time and Newsweek recently. Apart from the fact that I’m quite interested in geopolitics and the world economy at large, I do believe that it is a good way to keep practicing English. I must add though, these magazines don’t go cheap in Taiwan; but I can also add that they are better than anything Taiwan has to offer in terms of ‘world genre’.

Before I started on Time and Newsweek, I read a book entitled ‘The Post-American World’ by Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria. In this book he depicts not the fall of America, but rather, the rise of the rest of the industrial world — particularly the BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Throughout the book he talks about China’s overwhelming growth and India’s goal to chase the already industrialising Chinese economy; at the same time, however, pointing out the reason for China’s massive success – their social-communism.

Of course, with success comes a hefty price. In the case of the recent recession and economic collapse of equity, Mr. Zakaria states that the reason behind this ‘global collapse’ is, ironically, because of global economic rise. Absolutely, Mr. Zakaria. Greedy people we are…

For me, Jeremy Clarkson summed up the recession in a straight-forward manner saying in a recent episode of Top Gear: “The Recession — We all know what caused it. Banks were lending money they didn’t have to people who couldn’t pay them back; and now no one can afford anything.”
Once again reflecting on America’s loan schemes. No matter, the world still has China to rely on. Or does it?

Sure she’s big, and she’s got a work force twice the size of any industrial country to date; but China is facing an aging population because of their long-implemented one-child policy; and together with increasing labor costs, China is facing more social pressure than most countries can handle. How is China holding up with this? How is China’s economy booming at the same time there is civil conflict within? Fareed Zakaria explains in full detail in his book just how China gets from A to B with the snap of a finger. No other country in the world can do what they do: command, implement and enforce with such vigour that even America is shaking in her capitalist boots. Plainly put, China’s government has full control of their people with no strings attached. No laws to abide to, no policies to veto, just a straight up three step formula to success. But even though China is on the rise, as President Obama plainly put it, we have nothing to fear. Let us not forget that most of China economic growth is because of foreign investors, and at the same time funded by strong foreign relations. China needs the rest of the world just as much as we need her.

China’s influence on the world reaches far beyond most would imagine. As a Taiwanese citizen, I feel the sting of China’s lashes. Besides the fact that China threatens to obliterate Taiwan if we dare even say the word “independence” out loud, they also control Taiwan in many social fronts. Even though I say social, most of the reasons behind this bondage is because of an insecure foreign policy towards Taiwan on China’s front.

At the recent World Games held in Kaohsiung, we saw the issue that has been pending ever since the formation of Taiwan as a state-nation. Taiwan’s athletes cannot bear the Taiwanese flag, and cannot sing the Taiwanese national anthem. Instead, they are forced to parade with Taiwan’s athletic emblem and sing an athletic theme song. As if ‘China Taipei’ wasn’t enough to please our cross-shore neighbours, most of the people in Taiwan have vented their frustration to the Nationalist Party (KMT) about just how bad it feels to not even be allowed to bring Taiwan’s flag into the stadium, in constant fear that China will refuse any further participation in the World Games.

I have long wondered why China has these policies. Including one which states that one may only have one identification when in China. You’re either Chinese or you’re not, nothing in between. No American-born-Chinese with a Chinese passport and a Green Card, no. No South African with a Chinese passport. If you want to live permanently in China, you’re forced to either apply for PR with a foreign passport or give up your foreign citizenship as a whole.

At the same time, China forbids the access of Facebook, MySpace and many other interweb based blogs and websites, most probably in fear of a national uprising of sorts. I have no idea.

Don’t get me wrong. I think China is a fantastic place. The stuff is cheap, the food is great. The people there aren’t really that great at driving, but apart from that, and severe pollution of course, I think it’s quite a nice place.
I also have many friends who are Chinese. Most of them were born in South Africa, but still, they’re considered Chinese. I used to joke with one of my friends, Ziyi, about going to war and meeting each other on the battlefield. It’s funny when I think about it now, but I really do hope nothing like that happens. That would be tragic.

I think what we, and the rest of the world, need is a common interest with China. We give in a little if you give in a little. That’s how the world works isn’t it? And the answer is simple: economy. There will not be a war between Taiwan and China. The economic ties between the two are two strong and two mutually-reliant for anything like that to happen. So citizens of Taiwan can shout and scream for as long as they want, the fact of that matter is: we need each other.

One of my teachers was talking about China and her foreign policy towards Taiwan today, and said that if he’d been speaking about this same topic 20 years ago, he would’ve ‘disappeared’ and reappeared on the obituary the following day.

I guess I needn’t discuss this issue further. It’s a never ending game of tug-of-war and at the moment, and money is the prize.

On a side note, a category 10 typhoon called ‘Morakot’ is about to sweep Taiwan from head to toe. The first of its kind this year if I’m not mistaken. It should be quite scary. Apparently it can do some pretty hefty damage to some rural areas of Taiwan and also fill up our shrinking dams. All brace. Be alert, Taiwan. JSF.

Tropical cyclone, Morakot, has a diameter 5 times that of Taiwan. This should be fun!

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