China bites a hand holding treats
Before the Lunar New Year, an alarming news story quietly circulated in the Chinese-language Internet. Preoccupied with holiday celebrations, no one paid much attention to it. Reportedly, the intelligence unit of Taiwan's military learned that, in January, the US had intercepted a "facts" report on Taiwan prepared by the General Staff Headquarters of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).
The report pointed out that entry-level military officers in the PLA, especially recent graduates from military schools or programs, uniformly hail the slogan "great unification of the motherland on the one-century anniversary of the 1911 Revolution (辛亥百年祖國大一統)." The year 2011 marks the centenary of the Qing Dynasty and the beginning of China's republican period. The report went on to detail the situation in Taiwan with great precision and accuracy. At the same time, this report is also the first major official report on Taiwan by the PLA that has come to light after the change of ruling party in Taiwan in 2000. Under the circumstances, it comes as no surprise that the US military gives so much weight to this confidential report.
Irrespective of what the real motive for making the report may have been, it would be outlandish for the PLA to use this report to brainwash its entry-level military officers and thereby build a consensus for Chinese unification in 8 years. At that time, China will be facing a post-Olympic-Games economic upheaval. With its hands full, how can it possibly unify with Taiwan?
A news story appearing in the Liberty Times after the Lunar New Year pointed out that, despite local semiconductor manufacturers' intention to open up 8-inch wafer fabs across the Strait, China is actively plotting to undermine world praise for them. President of the Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association (TSIA) Morris Chang (張忠謀) revealed that China's government body which regulates its semiconductor businesses also wants to join the World Semiconductor Council (WSC), but demands that TSIA's membership name be revised to reflect its "local" status. Both Chang and the members of the TSIA Board oppose the name change. Whether the Chinese side will join the WSC in May remains unknown.
Chang said he went to Beijing to communicate with Chinese officials. TSIA also sent other representatives to negotiate with China, expressing their objections to the proposed name change. But they report that China won't accept it. Chang believes WSC members are like allies who work together to promote the chipmakers as a whole. TSIA truly welcomes China's entry into the WSC, but, if as a member, China is thinking about dwarfing Taiwan politically, then TSIA finds it unacceptable. In particular, since WSC members are mostly private organizations, there is really no reason to drag politics into it.
Beijing lusts after Taiwan's semiconductor technologies and investment money, but at the same time makes a lot of under-the-table moves to demean Taipei. This is despicable. Hopefully, China can realize its own priorities, focus on its economy, improve its standard of living, and deal with its widening income gap.
Before the 2008 Olympics Games are held in Beijing it would also do well to polish its "backward" image. China should take care of its domestic affairs before it begins to make a fuss over the cross-strait issues and fantasize about a "great Chinese unification."