March 10, 2000

One China, Two Systems:
Our Foreign Policy Elite Objects


Our foreign policy elite has spoken. George Will, Arthur Waldron and William Shawcross, among others, have pontificated on the upcoming presidential election in the Republic of China, which they invariably refer to as "Taiwan."

What sort of foreign policy wisdom are they offering to share with us? Let's look at a Newsweek article by William Shawcross, reprinted in The Straits Times Interactive on March 4, 2000 and entitled "One China? Not until Mainland is Democratic."

'... Taiwan is an island with its own constitution and its own defence forces. It is willing to pay lip service to the idea of reunification, but , as Foreign Minister J.R. Chen says: "For us, it's a precondition that the people of China enjoy the rule of law, freedom, democracy and a free market before unification can take place.'


Foreign Minister J.R. Chen is of course obediently parroting bossman Lee Teng-hui's transparently insincere rationalizations for refusing to engage in good faith negotiations over eventual reunification. Chen is Lee's appointee. When "Mr. Democracy" says jump, Chen asks "How high?"

But what's your excuse, Mr. Shawcross? What part of "One Country, Two Systems" don't you understand? It's not as if the terms of Jiang's "Eight Point Proposal" for the reunification of China aren't crystal clear, at least for anyone who cares more about the search for the truth than the search for an new 'Evil Empire."

Now if Beijing were demanding "One Country, One System" that would be another thing. But it isn't. The whole point of Beijing's "One Country, Two Systems" proposal is to to bend over backwards to offer the Taiwan region of China "the rule of law, freedom, democracy and a free market" in the interim , while the mainland catches up. When the mainland has caught up, then the two sides can reunify.


Let's get real here. The Taiwan separatist elite doesn't object to the "Two Systems" part of Beijing's offer. How could they? Two systems is what we've got, here and now. What they object to is the "One Country" part. Their objections have nothing whatsoever to do with rational economic or political criteria, and have everything to do with social psychology, or rather, social psychopathology. As they put it in their more candid moments , "We don't want to be Chinese." For the social dynamics underlying their attitude, see "Taiwan Independence and the Stockholm Syndrome." The rest is just smoke.


"Last year, Taiwan's President Lee Teng-hui caused something of a ruckus when he stated that relations with China should be conducted on a 'special state-to-state basis.' China was infuriated and stepped up its threats against 'the rebel province.' The bizarre nature of the international system is rarely seen so clearly as in the case of Taiwan. States that are utterly insignificant or brutal are in the United Nations."

We know of course, courtesy Mad Madeline, which state is "The Indispensible Nation." We know, also courtesy Mad Madeline's state sponsored terrorism against Serbians which state is "utterly brutal." But Mr. Shawcross, pray tell which states are "utterly insignificant?" Inquiring minds among's readers would like to know. Who knows? Maybe their own states are among them.

Text-only printable version of this article

Bevin Chu is an American architect of Chinese descent registered to practice in Texas. Currently living and working in Taiwan, Chu is the son of a retired high-ranking diplomat with the ROC (Taiwan) government. His column, "The Strait Scoop," now appears Fridays at

Archived Columns

One China, Two Systems

Taiwan’s Pseudo-Democracy

Taiwan Independence and the 2-28 Incident

The Least of Three Evils

A New Millennium, Really

Taiwan Independence Beats a Retreat

Hollywood's Tibet: Tinseltown's Sacred Cow

International Trade and National Security: Back to Basics

Tibetan-Chinese Are Not American Indians

American China Policy versus Common Sense

Letter to an American Patriot

The Myth of Casualty Aversion

Gary Bauer's Un-American Values

The Dalai Lama's Politics of Race

A Republic, Not an Empire: The Conventional Wisdom is Wrong, Dead Wrong

All Politicians are Essentially Actors: Al Pacino, Ronald Reagan and Lee Teng-hui

Playing Politics with Taiwan's Quake Victims

Taiwan's Great Earthquake and the Mandate of Heaven

Taiwan's Little Emperors

Globocops With Guillotines

Taiwan Independence and the Stockholm Syndrome

Taiwan Independence and Free Lunches (8/31/99)

Inside the Taiwan Political Scene (8/19/99)

American Values in Dire Straits (8/10/99)


"Taiwan, which is neither, is not only excluded but has full diplomatic relations with few others because of Chinese threats."

Mr. Shawcross, be advised Taiwan is not a state. Taiwan has never been a state. No state named Taiwan exists or has ever existed. Taiwan is a province of China. What Mr. Shawcross and other self-designated foreign policy "experts" refer to as "Taiwan" is merely one province belonging to a state called the Republic of China. The Republic of China's territory includes the entire Chinese mainland.

The Republic of China's Constitution, like the Peoples' Republic of China's Constitution, unequivocally specifies that its sovereign territory encompasses both the mainland and all offshore islands, including Hainan and Taiwan. In other words, both the constitutions of the regime in Beijing and the regime in Taipei agree there is only one China. The only disagreement is over which regime is legitimate, and which is not.

What Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian are talking about is a horse of a different color. What the Taiwan separatist elite are talking about is establishing a pro-Japanese "Republic of Taiwan," a defacto satellite to Taiwan's former colonial occupier, Japan. Do I need to tell you this is a non-starter, not only with Beijing, but with patriotic Chinese on Taiwan who consider their constitution more than just a piece of paper?


Shawcross we are informed "is on the board of the International Crisis Group , and is the author of the forthcoming Deliver Us From Evil: Warlords And Peacekeepers In A World Of Endless Conflict."

Wow. His bio in itself speaks volumes. International Crisis. Evil.

Warlords. Endless Conflict. Do I really need to editorialize?


"Taiwan, one of Asia's newest and most effective [sic!] democracies, is nearing its March 18 vote for a new president. Just as during the last such election in 1996, mainland China is threatening to invade. Every time Beijing acts in such a way, it diminishes the myth that there is but "one China." In the run-up to the 1996 presidential election, the People's Liberation Army fired missiles into the Taiwan Strait and backed off only when Washington sent two carrier battle groups into the area.

Permit me to translate. "Taiwan good. China bad. Washington punish."

Never mind that China has been divided into far more than just two parts more times than most historians can keep track of, and eventually reunified into One China.

Never mind that all those political explosions and implosions in China occurred millennia before these United States ever came into being, and that a Chinese civil war being fought on the opposite side of the Pacific is none of our damned business. Remember Vietnam? Anybody?

Never mind that that's not the way things went down, that what happened was the Gauleiters of the New World Order stood down, pulling the Seventh Fleet out of the Taiwan Straits when they realized PLA attack submarines were no longer in their submarine pens along the Fujian coast, and the Pentagon had no clue where they were.


Our omniscient foreign policy elites are nothing if not consistent, in their own perverted way. Their "Beijing bad, Taipei good" spin for the Taiwan Straits is a virtual Xerox copy of their "Chetniks bad, KLA good" spin for the Balkans.

Just as Bill and Tony's Amazing Balkan Adventure provoked the very "ethnic cleansing" they claimed to dread, so the China Threat Theorists' foreign policy prescriptions, were any administration demented enough to implement them, would provoke the very sort of shooting war they have been sounding the alarm over.

If anyone wants to witness a self-fulfilling prophecy unfolding before their very eyes, like a slow motion film of a building rigged for demolition, just listen to the China Threat Theorists' chest-thumping "Yellow Peril" alarmism, and watch as storm clouds gather over the Taiwan Straits.


Last week, China demanded that Taiwan start talks on reunification-or face invasion. A White Paper warned that China would be forced to take "drastic measures, including military force," if Taiwan continued to delay talks on eventual reunification. "Taiwan's position is that reunification can indeed be discussed-when China is democratic."

Spare us the "we must come to the defense of democracy" nonsense Mr. Shawcross. Please.

Anyone who knows anything about Mssrs. Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian and the Taiwan separatist elite's real agenda, knows this is pure unadulterated baloney. Rather than repeat myself here, I will merely refer readers to an earlier piece, "Taiwan Independence and the Stockholm Syndrome."

Beijing has no interest whatsoever in imposing communism on the Taipei administered region of China. To anyone with even a shred of intellectual honesty, it should be abundantly clear that Beijing doesn't even want communism for the mainland, let alone Hongkong, Macau, and Taiwan.

In fact Beijing wants to "de-communize" the mainland as fast as humanly possible. The most daunting obstacle of course, is massive, and I do mean massive, unemployment. To get a idea of the scale of unemployment we're talking about, remember that China has a population of 1.3 billion. According to some estimates some two to three hundred million Chinese are out of work. That's as much as the entire population of these United States . Millions of former government employees, out on the street, a sad but unavoidable consequence of the most ambitious jettisoning of socialist folly ever attempted in human history.

No. Beijing merely wants to prevent Taiwan secession, and eventual recolonization by neofascist forces in Japan. Taiwan's "democracy" or more accurately, pseudo-democracy, has nothing to do with either Beijing or Taipei's real concerns. See "Taiwan's Pseudo-Democracy."


Shawcross does us the favor of providing a concrete illustration of the global interventionists' arrogance, ignorance, and myopia for us.

"The transformation of Taiwan is quite astonishing. When I first visited it in the early 1970s, it was a dingy military dictatorship under the complete control of aging Kuomintang generals. The press was under strict government control; dissidents were rounded up... Bookshops were filled with cheap, pirated copies of bestsellers published in the West... I called on the Foreign Ministry's spokesman, who informed me that communist China, still in the throes of the Cultural Revolution, would undoubtedly fail and that the Taiwanese model would be triumphant. I am ashamed to say that I thought he was talking nonsense. It gives me great pleasure that I was so wrong. On a recent visit, almost everything that I saw on my earlier visits had gone from Taiwan. Fruit and rice exports have been replaced by high-technology goods. Above all, the Kuomintang had turned the country towards pluralism and itself into a genuinely democratic party. Taiwan has problems , of course, but its successes are stunning. It has a system people can trust. In China, by contrast, such trust is largely absent."


This was vintage Shawcross, circa 1970. Three decades ago. What's uncanny is how Shawcross 1970 sounds uncannily like Shawcross Y2K. The only difference being the object of his fear and loathing. Go back inside his passage and substitute "mainland China" for "Taiwan" and see what happens.

Allow me to write Shawcross' March 4, 2030 editorial for him, thirty years in advance.

"The transformation of China is quite astonishing. When I first visited it in the late 1990s, it was a dingy dictatorship under the complete control of aging Communist Party apparatchiks. The press was under strict government control; dissidents were rounded up... Bookshops were filled with cheap, pirated copies of CDs and videotapes published in the West... I called on the Foreign Ministry's spokesman, who informed me that Zhu Rongji's ambitious program to radically privatize China's state owned enterprises (SOEs) would succeed, and China's reformers would emerge triumphant. I am ashamed to say that I thought he was talking nonsense. It gives me great pleasure that I was so wrong. On a recent visit, almost everything that I saw on my earlier visits had gone from China. Agricultural exports have been replaced by high-technology goods. Above all, the CCP had turned the country towards pluralism and itself into a genuinely democratic party.

China has problems, of course, but its successes are stunning. It has a system people can trust.'"

Eery, isn't it?

I've yet to collect on a $100 bet I made in the late sixties with a self-styled "Red Guard" at Rice University in Houston, Texas, who shared Shawcross' interventionist, command economy skepticism about the transformative power of economic liberalization on a society's social and political institutions.


"Even so, whoever wins the Taiwanese presidential election, the threat from China will remain paramount. Beijing's belligerence makes the reunification it demands ever more unlikely. A sense of a new Taiwan with its own civic consciousness is emerging. The shibboleth of 'one China' seems ever more archaic."

Beijing's "belligerence," which Shawcross refers to, is the only thing preventing the Taiwan separatist elite from hijacking a province of China, against the will of 80% of the ROC's population, and handing it over to Japan, the same way the puppet Pu Yi ("The Last Emperor") made a gift of China's Manchurian region to Japan.

Those who remember Lee Teng-hui's notorious interview with Japanese journalist Ryotaro Shiba, followed up by Lee's "unofficial" official Cornell visit, know full well who provoked the current crisis. Frankly, I'm not the only ex-Cold Warrior in Taiwan who is astonished at how patient Beijing was before they finally reacted.

The "shibboleth of one China." Finally we're getting to the truth. This is what Benevolent Global Hegemonists really object to. This is what sticks in their craw. The prospect of a politically unified, economically prosperous 21st century Chinese superpower, which need no longer need bow before the likes of pompous gunboat diplomats George Will, Arthur Waldron and William Shawcross.


The Global Interventionists are truly amazing, aren't they? They're so out of touch, so far behind the curve, so plain WRONG, so often, one almost feels sorry for them. In fact all of this would be amusing, if Shawcross' and his ilk weren't so dangerous. The antics of fools can be hilarious. The antics of fools able to exert an undue influence on American foreign policy are anything but amusing.

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