FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Kerry’s China Connection

by DAVID LINDORFF

 

The world’s struggling democracies and democratic activists should not be terribly sanguine about the prospects of a John Kerry presidency.

Not if Kerry is serious–and the man aptly described as resembling a dead Abraham Lincoln is nothing if not serious–in his thinking about Taiwan.

In a January debate among the Democratic presidential hopefuls, Kerry said that Taiwan should adhere to a “ne-country, two systems” approach in its relations with the People’s Republic of China.

Now this long-time member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee surely knows that “ne-country, two systems” is one of those clumsy shorthand linguistic formulations popular with the Chinese Communist Party, developed in this case during negotiations with the British during the process of the handover of their colony of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty. The slogan was described by China at the time to mean that Hong Kong would become a part of China, but would be allowed to keep its traditional freedoms of speech, press, religion, etc., and control over its own economy and courts.

There were promises that after 2007, the public would for the first time even get to elect their own governor, and that later, after 2011, they could elect their legislature, a majority of which under the British were appointed by business interests or the colonial authority. The important point in all this, however, was that China had sovereignty over Hong Kong. Hong Kong law would be subordinate to Chinese law, and Hong Kong government actions would be subject to Chinese veto. In fact, since the 1997 handover China has put considerable pressure on those freedoms it permitted, is now backing off of its promise to permit election of the governor, is saying election of the full legislative counsel may be put off for three decades, and is even accusing democratic activists of being “unpatriotic.”

Taiwan, as would-be president Kerry surely knows, is an entirely different situation. It is in no way subordinated or subject to Chinese rule or law. The island has been completely independent of and separate from China since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s victorious People’s Liberation Army drove the corrupt Nationalist Army of Chiang Kai-shek to retreat there, where he established a ruthless dictatorship over the local Taiwanese population and claimed his government was the legitimate heir to the Republican China founded in 1911 with the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty. Over the years, while the People’s Republic remained a stifling Communist one-party dictatorship, Taiwan has evolved into a rough-and-tumble democracy. The majority Taiwanese through the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, currently control the presidency, but also play a major role in the old Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party of Chiang Kai-shek, which advocates a more conservative and conciliatory approach towards China.

The reality is that virtually no one in Taiwan, regardless of party, wants anything to do with the massively discredited “one-country, two systems” charade which China foisted on the people of Hong Kong. While there is bitter debate over whether to boldly confront China by eventually declaring full independence, or to maintain the long-standing ambiguous stance of pretending that there is only one China but that eventually the Communists will fall and Taiwan will rejoin a reborn pan-China “Republic,” Kerry’s notion that the Taiwanese people must or ought to accept Chinese sovereignty on the Hong Kong “one country, two-systems” model is either ludicrous or a treacherous betrayal of a people.

Some in the Kerry camp have tried to suggest that the candidate simply misspoke, and meant to say he supported the “one China” policy established during the Nixon administration, when the U.S. stopped recognizing Taiwan as being the real China, and acknowledged Beijing as the government of China. In that formulation, the de facto independence of Taiwan is acknowledged by the U.S., which has embassy officers there (in all but name), sells it defensive weaponry, and, on occasion, even provides it with military back-up when China threatens (as it has been doing lately in the run-up to the presidential election in Taiwan later this month). The problem is, Kerry is not particularly given to blurting out gaffes, and besides, his background on the Foreign Relations Committee has surely made him quite familiar with the nuances of the China/Taiwan relationship. He can’t claim ignorance.

Besides, Kerry has something of a history of selling out the Taiwanese.

As early as April 25, 2001, before he was a candidate for president, Kerry, in a speech on the Senate floor, actually berated Pres. Bush for asserting that U.S. policy was to defend Taiwan against attack by China. While Bush’s statement was indeed a more direct promise of support than any president had made in recent years, Kerry’s rebuke was a more glaring backing away from support of Taiwan than any president or major policy maker in memory.

It’s worrisome too that Kerry was another recipient of funds from Johnny Chung, a Taiwanese-American businessman and his associate, Liu Chaoying, a Hong Kong businessman, whose political activities became a scandal during the 1996 Clinton campaign. It turned out that Liu, whom Kerry helped in his effort to get a Chinese-based company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, was actually an officer in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, which was also an owner of the company in question.

While it’s a stretch to imagine that Kerry is or was acting in the interests of the PLA (particularly given that its ownership of business interests, while wide-ranging, is also carefully concealed through front companies), his willingness to accept money from such China-linked businesses, whether foreign or American, suggests where the real problem lies.

China these days is a multinational corporate wet dream–easy money to be made and lots of it–and politicians on both sides of the aisle in America are being buttered up with legal campaign funds designed to induce them to adopt foreign policies that favor China business, and that might make China’s rulers favorably disposed towards the U.S. One way to keep Beijing happy: put the screws to Taiwan.

If this is the kind of pro-corporate foreign policy we can expect from a Kerry presidency, the future looks grim not just for the democratic citizenry of Taiwan, but for struggling democracy advocates in other parts of the world (Vietnam, Indonesia, Burma, Nigeria and of course Iraq come immediately to mind) where the amount of money to be made likely trumps other more progressive concerns.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. He is now in Taiwan on a Fulbright scholarship.

A collection of Lindorff’s stories can be found here: http://www.nwuphilly.org

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail