jacdon at jacdon at
Fri May 25 10:44:16 MDT 2001

Following is an article about U.S.-China relations, Taiwan and Tibet
that will appear next week in an activist newsletter in upstate New York
published by the Mid-Hudson National People’s Campaign.  While it is
aimed at an editorial appearing in a local newspaper, readers of this
list may find it of broader interest.


By Jack A. Smith

It’s time someone informed the corporate bigwigs who own the anti-union
Gannett media conglomerate, which controls our regional daily
newspaper--the Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal--that the Cold War is over
and we don’t want it back again.

In a May 23 editorial, written at a time when the Bush administration is
planning to redirect the focus of its formidable military might to Asia
(meaning  China) the newspaper jingoistically commended President Bush
“for standing up to the bullies who rule China,” an act the paper
gleefully suggested has “the communist leaders of China...seething.”   

The deeds for which Bush was congratulated included his meeting in
Washington May 23 with the Dalai Lama (the Buddhist religious figure who
functions as the political leader of Tibetan exiles in India) and his
authorization of  a simultaneous visit to New York City by President
Chen Shui-bian of Taiwan to confer with a delegation of Congressional
leaders.  Heretofore, adhering to understandings regarding the
territorial integrity of China explicit in the Washington-Beijing
rapprochement of the 1970s, the Dalai Lama was never accorded an
“official” meeting in the White House and Taiwanese leaders were not
allowed to discourse “formally” with political leaders in the U.S.  

According to the Poughkeepsie Journal editorial, which could have been
penned a half-century ago with minor updating, “Leaders in Beijing have
repeatedly insisted that Tibet and Taiwan are China’s own ‘internal
affairs,’ and America has no business interfering.  Internal Affairs? 

“Hardly?”  The overwhelming majority of nations in the world, including
the U.S., regard Taiwan and Tibet as part of China, regardless of 
Gannett’s revanchist innuendos.  Even the Dalai Lama is realistic enough
to seek autonomy, not independence. The Chinese government is entirely
correct to speak of  its internal affairs.  The Journal also appears
dismayed that in China’s view, the U.S. “has no business interfering,”
as though the Gannett empire was oblivious to the fact that Washington
has been interfering provocatively  in China’s affairs almost
continuously since the end of World War 2--and under Bush is clearly
concocting further imperial adventures.

The newspaper declared that “Taiwan became independent during the 1949
communist revolution.” This is not true. Taiwan remains a province of 
China, with which it has been associated for over a thousand years.
Taiwan never even sought independence from China after the corrupt and
reactionary Nationalist Party and its 2 million-strong army--which lost
the civil war against the communists in 1949--escaped to the island and
established a dictatorship backed by U.S. money and military strength. 
Indeed, throughout their long reign, the Nationalists considered
themselves the rulers of all China from their Pentagon-protected island
redoubt 100 miles from the mainland and continued to occupy China’s UN
seat until the 1970s.   (At the height of the Cold War years, a
political mentality not entirely alien to that informing the Journal
editorial was demanding that Washington “unleash” Nationalist dictator
Chiang Kai-shek to conquer China proper.) Even in more recent years,
after pluralism replaced the Nationalist iron rule in the early 1990s,
the Taipei government has not declared independence and shares
increasing economic ties with Beijing.   There is a minority element of
politicians in Taiwan who entertain ideas of secession from China, but
they have so far been held in check. The Beijing government seeks a
reconciliation with Taiwan based on the principal of “one country, two
systems,” that is, the Chinese type of “market communism” for the
mainland and capitalism with considerable autonomy for the island and
its 24 million inhabitants.  

Regarding Tibet, Gannett maintains it “was forcibly annexed in 1950” 
and that “the heel of Chinese rule has led to 1.2 million Tibetans
dying.”  There has never been any proof to support this allegation about
deaths, which has been spread by the well-financed Tibet exile
movement.  The CIA, incidentally, was deeply involved in establishing
and maintaining the exile government in the 1950s and 1960s, as part of
its anti-China obsession.   The Dalai Lama admitted recently that he was
on the CIA’s payroll throughout the 1960s.

China has exercised a loose sovereignty in Tibet for 600 years.  (See
“The Making of Modern Tibet,” by SUNY system professor A. Tom Grunfeld,
published in 1996 by M. E. Sharpe.) At the time of the Chinese
revolution in 1949, over 90% of the people in Tibet were poor, landless
serfs ruled by  a feudal theocracy which kept them in bondage,
illiteracy and superstition.  Another 5% more were actual slaves to the
ruling elite. Everything of value in the country was owned by about 100
noble families and the abbots of an equal number of big monasteries.  
The Dalai Lama was essentially the pawn of this small, powerful ruling
class, which now constitutes the backbone of the exile movement. There
were no public schools, except for feudal monasteries where a handful of
young boys studied religious chants.  Total enrollment in the old-style
private schools was 600 students.  Education for women was as unheard of
as female equality. There was no health care at all for the masses.
Social services barely existed. The country was virtually without roads.

A decade after the Chinese revolution, Tibetan serfdom and slavery was
outlawed, rule by the feudal lords and abbots was terminated (thus
ending theocratic government), schools and medical facilities were
constructed and made available to everyone, roads were built, and women
obtained equal rights. The territory is still poor, as is most of China,
but in recent years there has been considerable economic growth in
Tibet.  Beijing reports that 97.3% of the Tibetan people now live above
the regional Asian subsistance poverty line, evidently a higher
proportion than in the rest of China.

The situation in Tibet is not without complexity and contradiction. 
China has made mistakes in relation to Tibet resulting from the
left-right political struggles within the Communist Party that impacted
the entire country,  but overall the lot of the working people of Tibet
has improved markedly  as a consequence of the Chinese revolution.

Even though the Journal cautioned the White House to avoid going “so far
as to break diplomatic relations”  and to clarify the meaning of its
evolving China policy, the overall emphasis of the Gannett line was to
agree with the far right’s critique of China and to support the Bush
administration’s exacerbation of tensions and moves to resurrect
elements of the Cold War in its relations with the world’s most populous

The two visits which so thrilled the Gannett media empire--and even the
spy plane incident or the bombing of Beijing’ embassy in Belgrade--are
relative trifles compared to the Bush administration’s developing
military posture toward China.  In addition to its intention to
construct a missile defense system, which is primarily aimed at China no
matter what other pretexts are given, the administration is in the midst
of a policy realignment “that would redirect the focus of American
military planning from Europe to Asia,” according to the May 16 New York
Times.  The Times continued: “A confidential Pentagon strategy review
has cast the Pacific as the most important region for military planners
and calls for the development of new long-range arms to counter China’s
military power.”  Evidently,  ghosts of the old “China Lobby”
accompanied Bush into the White House and Donald Rumsfeld into the
Defense Department.

In an extremely important article the same day as the Times account, an
official analysis in Beijing’s People’s Daily  declared that “The United
States has conducted a strategic [military] adjustment directed against
China, which regards China as a main source of threat and as the
principal opponent [of] the U.S.”  The commentary acknowledged “this is
really something unexpected” and admitted “we underestimated U.S.
strategic intentions...and underestimated the possibility that we would
face a grim situation.”  The article concluded that “we must consider
our terms of the worst possibility.”

The Beijing government does not casually make announcements of this
caliber  to the 1.4 billion inhabitants of China.  The Chinese
leadership is deeply concerned about the Bush administration’s revival
of Cold War military policies and it views the Pentagon’s developing new
war strategy with alarm.  

Hopefully, peace forces and the left in our country will surmount over
50 years of anti-China propaganda--from the White House to this week’s
Poughkeepsie Journal--and take steps to restrain the Bush administration
from declaring Cold War II, with China substituting for the USSR.

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