Democracy reaffirmed- Pro-FTAA piece from Taiwan

Mark Munsterhjelm gustav88 at
Tue Apr 24 01:30:00 MDT 2001


Here is a distorted view from Taiwan that even tries to compare the FTAA
"Democracy declaration" with Taiwan and China's ongoing disputes. It is
part of a general effort to put "free trade" in a positive light due to
Taiwan's impending WTO accession by spreading the falsehood that
"democracy" and "free trade" go hand in hand.  Letters to the editor can
be sent to:
letters at

Best regards,
Mark Munsterhjelm
Sanchung, Taiwan
e-mail: gustav88 at

Taipei Times, Tuesday, April 24th, 2001

Editorial: Democracy reaffirmed

A debate over basic human values concluded in Quebec on Sunday
as the Summit of the Americas wrapped up -- political and economic
democratization versus communism; globalization versus
nationalization; labor rights versus consumer rights;
environmentalism versus economic growth and conflicts between
the northern and southern hemispheres. Some of these debates
were discussed during the summit -- some in the meetings and
some in the media. Outside the summit meetings, street fights
broke out over these same problems. The summit already had clear
answers to some of the questions, while others remain to be

The summit discussed the establishment of a "Free Trade Area of
the Americas" (FTAA) in the year 2005, which will encompass 800
million people and US$13 trillion in trade value across North, Central
and South America. Many Central and South American states are
not so optimistic about the prospects of such a free trade area
promoting the development of all the countries. And doubts remain
over whether economic liberalization will worsen the capitalist
exploitation of economically weaker countries and widen the gap
between north and south. However, all the countries participating in
the summit agreed to the basic value of and overall direction
toward economic liberalization and globalized cooperation when
they signed a joint declaration and a trade pact.

Even though protesters from around the world continued on the
path set at the 1999 Seattle protests, they were not categorically
against the idea of an American free trade zone. Rather, they
wanted to emphasize that any form of economic integration must be
conducted on the basis of sustainable development and equality for
all the people. They believe globalization will worsen the
exploitation of labor rights and have a major impact on global
ecology. Even US President George W. Bush, who has decided to
backtrack on the Kyoto Protocol for curbing greenhouse gas
emissions, agreed to add an environmental clause in the free trade
agreements. Bush's decision raised the suspicion of a double
standard, but it can still be counted as a goodwill gesture toward
the protesters on the streets and an attempt to allay the fears over
how the FTAA will tackle environmental issues.

Another major consensus at the summit was on the importance of
democratic values and economic development. The summit passed
a "democracy clause" which will not only block undemocratic
countries from the FTAA but bar them from loans from the
Inter-American Development Bank. Cuba was the only country in the
region not invited to the summit -- because it wasn't democratic.
Communism appeared bankrupt after the collapse of communist
regimes in eastern Europe, but since then, democracy has not done
very well in eastern Europe and Africa, where communism appears
to be making a comeback. Now the summit declaration has once
again tried to consign communism to the dustbin of history.

China, the largest communist country in the world, is adopting
policies of economic liberalization. But the country is still run by an
authoritarian regime. Beijing created "one country, two systems" for
Hong Kong in an attempt to make a showcase of its contradictory
political and economic systems. In her farewell speech last week,
Anson Chan (³¯¤è¦w¥Í), Hong Kong's outgoing chief secretary of
administration, aptly described the problems inherent in such a
system. She said Hong Kongers are increasingly looking north
(toward China) rather than to the international community. The
basic conditions that drove Hong Kong's rapid growth are now
quickly disappearing, she said.

The Summit of the Americas proclaimed the future lies with
democracies. Anson Chan expressed the pessimism that many in
Hong Kong, Macau and elsewhere feel about one country, two
systems. But China continues to use these outmoded ideas to
demand unification from Taiwan. China's efforts to use poison as a
sweet wine couldn't be more absurd.

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