Friday, November 04, 2005

China woos the Taiwanese

What's going on between China and Taiwan? Back in March the Chinese were threatening Taiwan with its anti-secession law. Today, China seems to be going way out of its way to make a good impression on the Taiwanese people. China is suddenly playing a smart game and it all started with the visit of Taiwan's leader of the opposition last spring.
Half a year after top opposition Taiwan politicians Lien Chan and James Soong were feted in historic visits to Beijing, the ripple effects brought by promises of good will and trade appear to have penetrated more deeply than at first thought - intensifying political divisions and emotions in the young democracy.

Beijing is poised to use its meetings with opposition parties to gain unprecedented influence in Taiwan's domestic politics.

. . . The state of affairs is a striking reversal of the political mood and of edgy cross-straits relations. The pro-independence government of President Chen Shui-bian appears so off-balance, say analysts, that its once-bold plan to revise the Constitution and hold a referendum seems on hold.
China's campaign has convinced the Taiwanese people that they should not feel threatened. Taiwan is resisting US pressure to beef up its defensive capabilities.

I can't help thinking that the Taiwanese are being lured into a trap. The Chinese government recently rejected any moves towards democratization. So far, this Chinese 'perestroika' is not having the same effect as the USSR's did 20 years ago. And, there's no glasnost to go along with the perestroika - journalists are still being jailed and web sites shut down if they attempt to shed any light on government policy. I think if I were Taiwanese, I'd be wary.