A nation existing globally respects what other nations think, and appropriates other nations’ perceptions of itself. The element that a nation wants to see most in its international image is respect, something the People’s Republic of China seems to be craving.
Criteria of respect for nations are historically and culturally variant, but one primary, essential criterion has become universal since the end of the Cold War: a respect for human rights.
How the government of a nation treats its people and how they treat one another has become an essential measure of that nation’s respectability. A nation might be powerful and, hence, feared or depended on; it might be rich and favored as a trade partner.
However, neither power nor utility will elicit respect without ethical respectability.
Moreover, respect for human rights is not an implication of a newly accepted theory or ideology, but a distillate of humankind’s chastening historical experience.
The rampant violations of human rights unfolding in the Xinjiang region, Tibet and Inner Mongolia are appalling.
As an opinion piece in the Taipei Times eloquently said: “China has degenerated into not just a hyper-authoritarian police state, but a Han Chinese-centric, ethnic-nationalist state” (“Beijing ramps up its ethno-fascism,” Sept. 11, page 8).
Beijing’s policies — ethnic cleansing and premeditated cultural and demographic genocide — have destroyed the Chinese government’s credibility and ethical respectability.
The propaganda of the Chinese Community Party (CCP) on building a “united, prosperous, civilized, harmonious and beautiful new, modern, socialist” country reminds me of a book by Guy Sorman, a prominent French intellectual, titled The Empire of Lies — The Truth about China in the Twenty-First Century. To paraphrase a Mark Twain expression popularized in the US: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and CCP propaganda.”
China “fell into a moral swamp, devoid of humanity,” as Ai Weiwei (艾未未), China’s well-known artist and activist, said in his insightful opinion piece in the Taipei Times (“Think sanctions hurt China? Then you are stuck in politics,” Aug. 8, page 9).
China’s other well-known dissident, Liao Yiwu (廖亦武), who is internationally respected as the “Chinese Solzhenitsyn,” said in an interview with Agence France-Presse in April last year that China is “a threat to the whole world and should be split up into 10 or so countries.”
The controversy caused by Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil’s visit to Taiwan creates an interlude in which the residents and politicians of the EU should reflect on their China policy, especially given the bloc’s four goals: peace, prosperity, democracy and human rights.
Other Europeans should learn from Vystrcil’s moral values and principles, his backbone (self-respect), and stop turning “a blind eye toward Beijing’s barbarism” if they genuinely believe in the EU’s lofty goals.
On this occasion, the residents and political leaders of East Asian nations should reflect on their China policy. East Asian countries, especially China’s smaller neighbors concerned over how the “risen China” will treat them, should learn from young Taiwanese.
As a university educator, I have met many Taiwanese students in the US, Europe, China and South Korea. I have been impressed by how they strongly identify as Taiwanese, although their ancestors came from China. They have told me that they would fight to protect Taiwanese’s dignity and freedom if the Chinese military invaded their homeland.
I wonder if the young people found in China’s smaller neighbors have the kind of backbone and strong determination displayed by these young Taiwanese.
If they do, those countries have hope.
If not, China will sooner, rather than later, claim suzerainty over them and make them its tributaries. One cannot rule out that subjugated Asian nations could become another Tibet, Xinjiang or Inner Mongolia.
It behooves educators and people in leadership positions in East and Southeast Asian nations to educate their young generation to cultivate strong backbones — that is, self-respect for themselves and their nation. Self-respecting people and governments do not tolerate invasions from other nations, even if the latter is a so-called superpower.
Yeomin Yoon is a professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.
Late last month, Beijing introduced changes to school curricula in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, requiring certain subjects to be taught in Mandarin rather than Mongolian. What is Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) seeking to gain from sending this message of pernicious intent? It is possible that he is attempting cultural genocide in Inner Mongolia, but does Xi also have the same plan for the democratic, independent nation of Mongolia? The controversy emerged with the announcement by the Inner Mongolia Education Bureau on Aug. 26 that first-grade elementary-school and junior-high students would in certain subjects start learning with Chinese-language textbooks, as
There are worrying signs that China is on the brink of a major food shortage, which might trigger a strategic contest over food security and push Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), already under intense pressure, toward drastic measures, potentially spelling trouble for Taiwan and the rest of the world. China has encountered a perfect storm of disasters this year. On top of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, torrential rains have caused catastrophic flooding in the Yangtze River basin, China’s largest agricultural region. Floodwaters are estimated to have already destroyed the crops on 6 million hectares of farmland. The situation has been
The restructuring of supply chains, particularly in the semiconductor industry, was an essential part of discussions last week between Taiwan and a US delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach. It took precedent over the highly anticipated subject of bilateral trade partnerships, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) founder Morris Chang’s (張忠謀) appearance on Friday at a dinner hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for Krach was a subtle indicator of this. Chang was in photographs posted by Tsai on Facebook after the dinner, but no details about their discussions were disclosed. With
On Sept. 8, at the high-profile Ketagalan security forum, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) urged countries to deal with the China challenge. She said: “It is time for like-minded countries, and democratic friends in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, to discuss a framework to generate sustained and concerted efforts to maintain a strategic order that deters unilateral aggressive actions.” The “Taiwan model” to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic provides an alternative to China’s authoritarian way of handling it. Taiwan’s response to the health crisis has made it evident that countries across the world have much to learn from Taiwan’s best practices and if