PRC fears regime change

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Editorial

China has vented its anger at the United States for persistently sending “wrong signals” to Taiwan’s separatists and Hong Kong’s democrats.

But it is also out of fear of U.S. policies on human rights and democracy. Together, they are believed to be a grand scheme “aimed at regime change in Beijing.”

Last Tuesday in Washington, the Chinese embassy spokesman Sun Weide called a rare news conference to lash out at the Bush administration’s policies on Taiwan and Hong Kong, declaring it is “gravely concerned” that the issues “will undermine progress on U.S.-China relations.” The accentuated hard posture was made just three days after national security adviser Condoleezza Rice returned from Beijing, signaling the Chinese leadership’s rejection of U.S. policies on Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China as a whole. Rice, in her talks with Beijing’s top leaders, tried to allay their concerns by stressing “we do not want a weak China. We want a more confident and transforming China that the rest of the region would welcome.”

But she rebuffed their demand to stop sales of high-tech weapons to Taiwan, citing Beijing’s 500 missiles aimed at Taiwan as justification for beefing up the island’s defense. The visiting American official also cautioned her hosts that their efforts to frustrate Hong Kong people’s calls for greater democracy would have direct and immensely negative impact on Taiwan. On the other hand, Rice sought Beijing’s help to exercise greater pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Vice President Dick Cheney had relayed in person similar American opinions and requests to the Beijing leadership three months ago. As President Bush’s re-election draws near, his administration’s need of Beijing’s diplomatic collaboration in the United Nations and on Iraq, North Korea and anti-terrorism is obviously increasing. Beijing welcomes this.

But America’s high profile is not acceptable. By coincidence, in an op-ed article last Tuesday in Beijing’s official English-language newspaper, China Daily, the U.S. was blasted as “the imprimatur of neo-imperialism under the concept of a new American century forced on China.” Titled “Taiwan used as a U.S. sword in Operation China Decapitation,” under the byline of Lau Guan Kim, the article said: “it is a matter of time when the U.S. crosses the Rubicon under pretext of defending Taiwan’s democracy” to bring about “the eventual regime change in China a la Iraq.” The writer specifically noted as evidence that with “seven U.S. aircraft carriers exercising near the proximity of China, the die is slowly cast and China must be prepared…Placating is one thing, but being complacent in the face of dire threat is suicidal and stupid.” America is seen seeking “a gradual strangling of China.” After the end of the Cold War, Beijing phased out such anti-American rhetoric in state media. The sudden reappearance of it suggests mutual suspicions have not diminished after recent anti-terrorist collaborations but resurged over fundamental differences on freedom, democracy and human rights.

Taiwan and Hong Kong are just a hint of those differences. Having swiftly toppled regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, President Bush is suspected of planning to bring down another regime, after his November re-election, in Iran or North Korea, depending on circumstances. Regime change in China was a goal of the free world during the Cold War. It has re-surfaced as communist China seems anxious to annex democratic Taiwan.

Beijing wants to perpetuate its “regime” and can’t tolerate talk of its change. Words guide actions. Taiwan must avoid being caught in a cross-fire.