President Lee Teng-hui at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
On Friday, October 21, 2005, former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui gave the following address at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to some 100 invited guests, including university professors and local politicians, at a luncheon sponsored by the Los Angeles-based Formosa Foundation:
A Strategy for Freedom in Asia
The Sudden Rise of cooperation among free democracies against communist militarist hegemony
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am greatly honored to have this opportunity to meet with friends from Los Angeles and share some of my thoughts on Asian strategies for freedom in the twenty first century.
The twenty first century is the century of freedom. On January 20th of this year, your president-elect George W. Bush, in his inauguration speech stated:
"The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands… [The] best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world. It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."
Two months later, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a speech given in Tokyo at Sophia University, said "[R]aw power will not define Asia in the 21st century, as it has done in centuries past. Instead, ideas -- ideas of freedom -- will define 21st century Asia.".
These two statements set out the foundations of both a great vision as well as clear objectives regarding peace and security in Asia. Therefore today I would like to examine the Asian strategy that is needed to achieve these objectives.
What are the differences between Asia and other regions in this regard?
Most areas of the world have experienced an abrupt rise in freedom and democracy while tyrannical dictatorships are in decline. With the breakup of the Soviet communist military bloc the democratization of Europe was completed. Latin America and Africa are also in the throes of bidding farewell to dictatorships and entering the age of democracy.
However in Asia, we are witnessing a widening in the rift between the opposing systems of free democracies and tyrannical dictatorships.
On the one hand we have the examples of Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Mongolia in East Asia; India and Pakistan in South Asia; Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia in Southeast Asia; and Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and Georgia in Central Asia. All of these countries, with their different peoples, religions, and cultures, have in their own way chosen the path of freedom and bid farewell to the dictatorships of the past.
In the midst of waves of democracy rolling through the Asia-Pacific region, we witness the abrupt rise of China, the last major bastion of communist dictatorship and so this region takes center stage in the final confrontation between freedom and tyranny.
This emergence of China has captured the public's attention throughout the world. Everyone is asking: Will China's rise be a peaceful one or will it be based on military force?
The answer to this question is very simple. If China terminates its one party community dictatorship and opts for constitutional reform that includes freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, the new China will be a peaceful country. If the contrary is true however, and China insists on maintaining its one party despotic dictatorship, if it continues to exploit and suppress its people at home and expand its military threats against its democratic neighbors, then China will retain its current status and we will continue to witness the rise of a militarist hegemony.
So which road will the emerging China take? The road to peace or the road to aggression? Freedom or oppression? Democracy or dictatorship? The choice is not entirely for the government and people of China to make. The route China takes will also depend on the strategy and policies towards China and future developments in the Asia-Pacific that are adopted by free and democratic countries, especially those of the United States.
If free countries drop their guard against an emerging China military dictatorship and tolerate China's oppression at home and military adventures abroad, or if we capitulate to China's "united front tactics" that are designed to divide and defeat the free countries one by one we will have committed the mistakes of Munich and Yalta and facilitated China's following in the footsteps of Hitler and Stalin. The results will be a disaster for Asia that will reverberate throughout the entire world.
Free nations must remain on the alert to the threats from the Chinese military dictatorship as China grows in economic strength. Free nations must develop and strengthen their global and regional cooperation in both supporting the peoples of China in their struggle for freedom and democracy as well as taking measures to stop Chinese acts of oppression and aggression. Only in this way will we eventually see a China that respects the universal human rights of its people, a China that has renounced tyranny, and a China that is ready to take its place among the family of free nations in Asia.
The free nations of Asia lack a common strategy to deal with the emerging China. One reason for this deficiency lies in the difference between the development strategies adopted by communist China and that adopted by the Soviet Union under communism.
The Soviet Union and the East European members of the Soviet bloc adopted a closed-door policy whereby socialist and capitalist systems were kept apart. When socialist practices proved to be weaker than capitalist practices in the area of economic and national development, socialism lost the competition and the Soviet bloc collapsed.
The difference then is that China has adopted an "open door," "magnetic" strategy aimed at drawing in the capital, technology, and management, markets of the capitalist countries. So under conditions that are tantamount to enslavement by the state, businesses from the capitalist countries are enticed by cheap obedient labor and cheap land and facilities "owned" by the state. China is thus able to consolidate foreign resources with its local conditions to become the manufacturer for international capital, producing inexpensive goods which are then dumped on world markets and fill China's coffers with money that strengthens the economy, military and technology of a country in which the people still live as slaves to the communist system. As long as the capital from free countries continues to pour into China, China's already oppressive practices will become more entrenched and the ensuing and ever expanding militarism will make the likelihood of a transition to a peaceful country ever more unlikely.
China Inc., a book that praises the "vigor and dynamism of China" opens with a story. The author visits an electronic components factory in Shenjyun China. The factory has ten thousand employees, all paid the equivalent of eighty U.S. dollars a month, all young women, and not one wearing glasses.
The author asks the plant manager: "So you don't hire anyone with poor eyesight?" The manager responds: "If anyone's eyesight deteriorates we ask her to leave. It doesn't matter to me, there are plenty of people lined up waiting for jobs here."
The author goes on: "Whether in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Suzhou, or Dalian, there are hordes of people coming from the countryside seeking work, and this sort of attitude on the part of managers is a natural result of the labor situation. A plant in Dalian advertised for a job paying the equivalent of US$90 per month and was met with two thousand applicants from nearby farming villages surrounding the entire factory when lining up for the interviews.
The women chosen for the job lived in the factory dorm working day and night and spent their lunch breaks learning about electronic circuitry in on the job training. There is an inexhaustible supply of this kind of labor in China, it is without precedent anywhere in the world."
The author's conclusion is that the situation in China is "the way capitalism is supposed to be, a capitalist's paradise."
This story reveals the secret of China's powerful magnetic effect. The pyramid of China's rise is built on an inexhaustible supply of young women from rural China who will lose their sight and youth. This is the magnetic pole toward which free global capital is rushing. But when products from Chinese slave factories are flooding the world, profits will decline for capital in the free world, unemployment will rise, and the wages of free workers, following those of unfree Chinese workers, will fall. The result will be the defeat of the competitiveness of free countries by the slave system that they themselves have nurtured.
We can now clearly see that Communist China and the former Soviet empire have adopted different strategies against free, democratic countries.
The former Soviet empire was eventually buried by the very capitalist system that it swore it would bury by opposing the United States. But China does not oppose the US and is not trying to bury capitalism. Rather, it is absorbing imports of American and international capital by engaging the US in "constructive cooperation" and international capital in "friendly interchanges." These capital imports are allowing China to rapidly build up the economic, military, technological, and diplomatic power of its slave system.
The former Soviet empire directly challenged the world's free democracies, polarizing the world and creating a balance of terror through the resulting arms race. In the end, the Soviet empire fell apart after its economy collapsed under the weight of its military over-expansion. Communist China, however, avoids direct confrontation with the free democracies of the world. Instead it divides the world's democracies with its "multipolar" strategy. This is in fact the traditional Chinese strategy of "using barbarians to rule other barbarians." The objective is to use differences between the world's democracies to block them from allying with one another so that its slave system can coexist in a "multipolar" order of divided democracies.
The former Soviet empire's military expansionism failed because it overextended its lines and diluted its power. China knows that it does not have the former Soviet Union's military power and so it has adopted a strategy of shrinking its lines by converting its former enemies such as Russia, India, and Vietnam into "partners" or "friendly neighbors." This allows China to concentrate its forces on attacking democratic Taiwan as its first stepping stone to expanding its military and becoming Asia's dominant power.
Why is it that everyone could easily see the threat posed by the former Soviet Union, come together to strengthen cooperation between free countries and force the Soviet Union to abandon its slave system? Why can't people see the threat posed by China's slave system?
I believe there are two factors. One is that the West has a double standard for the former Soviet Union and China. People in the West believed that Soviet human rights violations and threats to neighboring countries should be stopped. But they believe that China's violations of human rights and threats to neighboring countries are "special Chinese characteristics" that can be tolerated.
The second factor is that the Soviet Union had just one face that it turned to the outside world, and that was a threatening face. But China has two faces. One face is intimidation, the other enticement. In March of this year, Communist China stepped up its intimidation of democratic Taiwan by passing its so-called "Anti-secession Law." And then General Zhu Chenghu of the People's Liberation Army threatened the United States with nuclear weapons. But at the same time it continued to oppress its people to create illusory economic growth that it uses to attract foreign investment.
In his speech in the Latvian capital of Riga commemorating the 60th Anniversary of World War II, President Bush reflected on the history lessons of the Yalta Agreement, which placed half of Europe under the yoke of the Soviet slave system. President Bush said:
"The agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable. Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable. The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history. …We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations, appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability. We have learned our lesson: no one's liberty is expendable. In the long run, our security and true stability depend on the freedom of others."
Today the Soviet Union's communist empire has been destroyed and the tragedy of half of Europe being placed under the yoke of the Soviet slave system has ended. But the primary threat of "sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability" has clearly shifted to Asia.
The strategy for freedom in 21st Century Asia is for free democracies to cooperate fully, join together to resist China's strategy of division, and bring the light of freedom to the darkest corners of Asia.
The strategic advantage in the Asia-Pacific region lies on the side of the free democracies, not on the side of China's slave system. But the major obstacles to strategic cooperation between Asia's democracies include overrating the strength of the slave system, underestimating the strength of freedom and democracy, fear of Chinese intimidation, and speculating on Chinese economic incentives.
The Chinese and North Korean slave states are just large and small islands in the sea of freedom and democracy. China advocates "multi-polarity" because it wants to sow dissent between the free countries so that it can strike them one by one and realize its goal of isolating the leader of the free countries, the US. Asia's free countries should increase economic, military, cultural, and diplomatic cooperation to avoid falling into traps like the Shanghai Cooperation Council that Communist China sets to divide free democracies.
Taiwan has emerged as a new democracy during the third wave of democracy. During the past 300 years, Taiwan had been a colony of Holland, the rule of Koxinga, the Manchu empire, Japan, and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). In the decade between 1986 and 1996, Taiwan transitioned from rule by a foreign power-the Chinese Nationalist party or KMT, to a democracy. The people of Taiwan gave me an opportunity to become witness to history. I began as a vice-president and then became Taiwan's first democratically elected president. By the time I left office, Taiwan had accomplished its first peaceful transfer of power to another party. I witnessed Taiwan's three miracles.
- Freedom. Taiwan's people ended more than 300 years of slavery by foreign rule and oppression.
- Economic progress. Taiwan became one of the world's most competitive countries.
- Peace across the Taiwan Straits. The votes of the Taiwanese people defeated the Chinese dictatorship's missiles. China, an authoritarian slave state, will never again dare to take lightly a small democracy.
But Taiwan faces external and internal threats.
The progress of Taiwan's democracy is being hindered both by her threats from China's slave state and internally by the remnants of the Chinese foreign power that once ruled Taiwan.
And now these two enemies are joining together and plotting to undermine Taiwan's democracy. They want to take power out of the hands of the Taiwanese people and put it back in the hands of the Chinese Nationalist Party's foreign rule.
Taiwan's freedom depends on the people of Taiwan protecting it. But the people of Taiwan need the support of the US and other free peoples. The threat of Munich and Yalta-that great powers will once again sacrifice the interests of small countries-has not passed. Taiwan's people believe President Bush's promise in Riga of not to "repeat the mistakes of other generations, (in) appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability"
The battle between slavery and freedom has shifted to Asia. The people of Asia hope that the United States, India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan will create a strategic alliance of Asian democracies to begin a new era of cooperation between Asian democracies. They hope that this new alliance will protect them from the threat of Chinese militarism and will also help the Chinese people win their freedom from slavery and put China on the path of democracy and peace.
Thank you for your attention.