By Jerome F. Keating Ph.D. Professor Keating has taught at Chinese Culture University, and is presently transferring to join the faculty of National Taipei University. He has lived in Taiwan over 12 years, and -- together with April C.J. Lin Ph.D. -- has written a book on the history of Taiwan, titled "Island in the Stream".
Academic research should always be free of political considerations. Recent pressures are mounting, however, on US and world Sinologists to alter or color their research, findings and judgements to statements that are more favorable to the desired party line proceeding from Beijing. Most prominent among these pressures has been the arrest and/or detainment of several China scholars travelling in China alone or with family. One only has to look at the papers to see the mounting number of cases of "suspected spies."
It was with this background that I recently read with dismay an article entitled "Courting the People of China" by Ezra F. Vogel of Harvard University. The article was originally published in the Washington Post on 14 May 2001 and later reprinted in the China Post (Taiwan) "U.S. needs to learn more about the people of mainland China."
Vogel begins by stating how he finds that the students he has lectured to in China and the States have "increasing access to outside information." This suggests a free flow of information from the world to China; that the Chinese are open to democracy and it is only a matter of time before rationalists on both sides will iron out any perceived problems. What is alarming about this and other of Vogel's statements is not what he says so much as what he omits or does not say.
Let us look at this free flow of information. While the small group of academics that Vogel lectures to may have greater access to outside information, my experience has been that there are several hundred millions who do not. Friends of mine in China complain regularly how internet access to outside papers is repeatedly blocked. I personally happened to be in Xi'an when the US spy (surveillance?) plane incident broke. I had to wait until I got to Hong Kong before I could get a decent read on what was happening. The Chinese papers, English and Chinese, abounded with statements on how the imperialist US propeller-driven plane somehow caught up with and knocked the defending Chinese jet from the skies. That it all happened some 65 miles off the coast of China was also omitted.
At the time, I was also watching how the mainland Chinese papers described the Dalai Lama's recent visit to Taiwan in early April. The only news was that over one hundred people turned out at the Taiwan airport to protest the visit of the "splittist villain who wants to tear the motherland apart."
Part of this report was true; the local communist party did manage to rally 100 to show up at the airport. What was noticeably missing was any report of the crowds of 20,000 and more who attended the talks of the Dalai Lama and his generous reception by most everyone else except those 100.
Vogel's article continues with a rosy tone, and affirms supposed non-imperialist intentions of China. "Beijing shows no signs of wanting to occupy territory outside Taiwan, some South Sea Islands and its current boundaries." While this has a familiar ring like another country's claim in the 1930's that it had no territorial claims beyond occupying the Sudetenland, what again is Vogel omitting?
Even if Vogel's claim were true, it glosses over the fact that Taiwan represents 23 million people. Who can object to giving them to China? The South Sea Islands are presumably the Paracels and Spratleys. These potentially oil and mineral rich islands happen to be claimed by five other countries but who says they should have a say in the matter? To give them to China would effectively make the South China Sea, China's "Mare Nostrum" since they claim a 200 mile zone of "economic influence" from their territory. And who could object to China charging a "reasonable toll" for any shipping passing through their sea?
The clincher in the statement however is that China does not wish to go beyond "its current boundaries." One can only assume that by this Vogel is acknowledging the occupation of the small territory of Tibet and a few other places. But, Tibet has only some two million plus people, so all these disputed territories should be simply given to China. It will make world trade flow more easily.
Vogel continues, stating that the detained crew members of the US plane stayed in an "air conditioned hotel" in Hainan so they really should not complain on how their plane was being rifled and pillaged of its latest technology and information. Further they should not even have entered into China's 200 mile zone of "economic influence."
Finally Vogel complains that the American public does not have an up-to-date image of China and that their opinion is shaped by such `ancient history' as the 1989 Tiananmen incident. That the American public may not always have a most up-to-date image of China I grant. But I have talked to and listened to leaders of that ancient incident in Tiananmen and somehow they don't feel they will be welcomed back with loving arms to the PRC. I had forgotten, what was the death count of that incident anyway?
What am I getting at? There is a growing pressure on American and other Sinologists to curry to the meal ticket and not quite tell the whole story, not quite give a full interpretation of what they find.
Why? If one's research or presentations could be interpreted as being too harsh or contrary to the expected party line of Beijing, somehow these academics won't get their return invitations to lecture at Chinese universities; they won't be given access to documents and materials needed to fulfill their research or worse yet, when they return to China they will be "detained as spies." What choices are open to them? They can of course look through "rose-colored glasses," as Vogel, but I think that academics and Sinologists can no longer avoid putting this issue on the table and discussing it.
Is research going to be research or simply a meal ticket? I invite academics and other involved parties to state their experience or views on this matter.
By Li Thian-hok. Mr. Li is a prominent member of the Taiwanese-American community living in Pennsylvania.
On 22 April 2001, Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan's former president flew to Japan on a 5-day visit for a medical checkup of his clogged arteries. Lee underwent an operation in Taiwan last November. Five stents devices to dilate narrowed arteries were placed in his coronary arteries.
As it turned out, Lee's heart surgeon, Kazuaki Mitsudo, of the Kurashiki Central Hospital in western Japan found a couple more narrowed arteries which required corrective procedures. Due to this minor operation, Lee's scheduled visit to Cornell University has now been postponed till late May.
Lee's seemingly routine medical trip became a tale of imbroglio in Japan. Faced with vehement objections from Beijing, Japan's Foreign Ministry went through 10 days of agonizing contortions before it granted Lee a visa. Lee applied for a visa to visit Japan on April 10. On the same day, Japan's top representative to Taipei visited Lee to persuade him to withdraw his application, without success.
On April 12, Senior Deputy Foreign Minister Eto verified that Lee had applied for a visa but said "the documents were merely entrusted to the office and not accepted." Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda then contradicted Eto. "Neither application nor acceptance was made," Fukuda said, adding that the government's stance of denying the visa remained unchanged. The next day Foreign Minister Yohei Kono repeated Fukuda's assertion of non-receipt of the visa application.
On April 13, Kono met with Prime Minister Mori and Fukuda to discuss the visa issue. Their conclusion: Japan would "tend" not to issue Lee a visa to avoid Beijing's anger. On April 15, Lee said his trip was not politically motivated. He criticized Tokyo for tip-toeing around the issue, calling the Japanese "more timid than a mouse."
On April 17, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue stated: "China firmly opposes Lee Teng-hui visiting Japan in any capacity.... The trip was aimed at shattering the framework of Sino-Japanese ties and seeking support in Japan for Taiwan independence."
On April 18, Mori deferred decision on Lee's visit in a press conference, after Kono threatened to resign over the issue. On April 19, Japan asked Lee to sign an agreement with two conditions, that Lee would be confined to Kurashiki City and that Lee would refrain from any political activity during his stay in Japan.
Lee, however, refused to sign the pledge. "If forced to accept such humiliating demands, I would rather not go," Lee was quoted as saying. Japanese officials later denied that they ever demanded that Lee sign a written agreement to restrict his activity.
In contrast to the disarray of the Foreign Ministry, Japan's four major newspapers all supported Lee's visit in their editorials. Three out of the four cabinet members running to replace outgoing Prime Minister Mori also supported Lee, including Junichiro Koizumi, the popular reformer who has now become Japan's new prime minister. 63 members of the Diet issued an appeal in support of the Lee visit. Dozens of Japanese citizens demonstrated in front of the Foreign Ministry to show support for Lee who is widely admired in Japan for his contribution to the democratization of Taiwan.
Taiwan's government officials also urged Japan to grant Lee a visa. Taiwan Vice President Annette Lu said "we hope the Japanese government will ... demonstrate moral courage and do the right thing."
Late in the evening of April 20, Kono announced that Japan has issued a visa to Lee on the condition that he refrain from any political activity during his visit. Kono told reporters: "The Japanese government has decided to proceed with issuing a visa for humanitarian reasons." On the same day, the U.S. Department of State issued an unrestricted tourist visa to Lee, for his U.S. visit in May. Explaining the decision, spokesman Philip Reeker said "we consider Lee to be a private individual."
This episode shows that Japan's Foreign Ministry under Kono was quite willing to forfeit control of its visa policy in deference to the rulers of the Middle Kingdom. If Japan is unable to resist foreign interference in the conduct of its domestic affairs, does Japan deserve the respect of the international community? Is Japan ready to assume the responsibility as a permanent member of an expanded UN Security Council? It is also questionable whether a feckless Japan can be a reliable ally in the event of a Sino-American confrontation.
In view of China's growing military prowess, the Bush administration urgently needs to bolster both Japan's self-confidence and the U.S.-Japan security alliance. The government of Japan needs to firmly assert Japan's independent sovereignty and uphold the dignity of the Japanese people.
This brings to mind the discourteous manner in which the Clinton administration had treated Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian during his stopover in Los Angeles last year. To placate an irate Beijing, Chen was confined to his hotel, forbidden to meet members of Congress and even local Taiwanese Americans. This year President Chen is scheduled to stop in New York on his way to Central America in May and to visit Houston on his return trip.
Hopefully the Bush administration will treat President Chen with the respect and courtesy due the chief of state of a democratic ally and important trade partner. By duly recognizing the political and economic achievements of the 23 million Taiwanese people, Washington can also uphold the dignity and civility of the United States as the leader of the free world.
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