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Commentary :: Globalization : Human Rights : International : Politics
Shameless Commerce: US Policy Towards China and Taiwan
05 May 2006
Modified: 12:08:09 PM
Bush’s passion for “exporting democracy” doesn’t apply where U.S. corporations think there’s money to be made in a repressive dictatorship.
The embarrassing American policy of toadying to China while selling out Taiwan was on display over the past couple of weeks in all its glory.

First China's president Hu Jintao was welcomed to the White House, given a fancy lunch and a military salute, and generally treated like the maximum leader he wanted to present himself as to his repressed subjects. (Okay, our own maximum leader George Bush made the faux pas of pulling Hu by the sleeve when the confused Hu headed off a stage in the wrong direction, but that was just Bush being Bush.)

Then, when Chen Shui-bian, the twice-elected president of Taiwan, tried to stop over for the night in San Francisco, en route to a visit to South America, he was denied permission by the U.S. government.

Note that since the U.S. technically doesn't recognize the Taiwanese government, Mr Chen is officially a private citizen, and Taiwanese citizens travel freely to the U.S.--in fact they are one of the largest group of visiters to America annually. He should not have even needed permission to visit.

The denial of President Chen's request to sleep in San Francisco was a deliberate slap-down designed to register the Bush administration's anger at Chen for having continued to promote Taiwan's independence from China, which continues to say it wants to take over Taiwan.

If the Bush administration is serious (yeah, right) about its rhetoric of promoting democracy around the globe, it should be backing Taiwan, the first example of a functioning democracy in China's history, to the hilt.

But that would not make American corporations, which are falling all over themselves trying to kowtow to the Chinese government and get permission to invest in the Chinese market, happy.

American corporate leaders are ready to sell Taiwan's 23 million people down the river in a flash if they can get to market their wares to China's 1.3 billion would-be consumers.

So in China, we have the repulsive example of American companies like Yahoo and Google actually helping the Chinese government to shut down democratic debate on the Internet, even to the point of helping China's police apparatus to track down and arrest people who are posting pro-democracy essays on the web, all the while espousing the Freedmanesque bromide that bringing capitalism to China will inevitably bring freedom along with it.

The next time Bush mouths his platitudes about America spreading democracy, some reporter ought to have the guts to ask: "What about Taiwan?"

For other stories by Lindorff, please go (at no charge) to:
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