The Red Chinese press agencies are releasing stories today saying that the Red and the Chinese Republic economies should be integrated, citing globalization and investment opportunities.
That sounds good on paper, in the climate of technocracy and globalization. But it masks the game of silly buggers that the Reds have been playing, including forcing a downgrading of the Republic’s WTO status, as recently as this year. That is not the action of an economy that wants to have bilateral relations, much less one it wishes to have integration with.
The Republic—Taiwan, if one were to refer to the island where it is exiled—naturally has concerns about freedom. Since 1949, the Politburo has shown itself incapable of governing, losing a third of its usable farmland, destroying much of history, and continuing human rights’ abuses. Hardly surprising when the people themselves do not have self-determination, which, the last time I read it, was a requirement for a UN member.
But, supporters (like New Zealand’s Labour government) argue, Red China is a different place. It has opportunity and capitalist tendencies. They ignore the intellectual property concerns (admittedly, there have been some severe and high-proﬁle crack-downs), or the fact that joint ventures require state involvement. Licensing (to start a venture) remains tough. However, most telling has been Red China’s management of the Special Administrative Region—Hong Kong and Macau.
Hong Kong has been through three recessions since 1997, when it was “handed back”. (I am not sure to whom, since the government parts of the city were leased from no longer exists. Hong Kong, from my reading of history, was ceded; only parts of the place were meant to be handed back. However, much of that was superseded when Mrs Thatcher went to Beijing and made a new deal, which made sense given the climate and the argument for territorial contiguity.)
Macau has fared a bit better, buoyed by gamblers coming down from the mainland, probably with funds obtained questionably. It’s now bigger than Las Vegas as a gambling town.
But in both cases, there is no democracy. Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, attempted to usher in democratic freedoms through a Legislative Council. Red China disbanded it, putting in a council which is two-thirds appointed by Beijing. Only a third is elected, effectively powerless.
The Republic will be looking on this with the usual sneering suspicion, seeing that the recessions are vindications of its stance.
But there are additional reasons to resist the call of integration. Red China’s record in human rights is known to most people. In addition, its use of sweatshops should be counted. It is on the worker, naturally, that the Red economy is founded—the Politburo sees the billion people as cheap units of production. For the Republic to integrate means endorsing this view and sacriﬁcing something dear to its own philosophy.
The expert calls by the state media are based on the same arguments as used by the west in convincing us about free-market economies. Fine. I accept many of them myself, but not all. Not when they go so far as to push wages down to mere cents per hour, as companies push for ever-cheaper production methods. Not when things lead to the abuse of people. Not even animals are expected to work, at least in the west, for 16 to 18 hours on their feet, but many a Chinese worker is.
In this climate, the Republic of China, and indeed other Confucian economies such as South Korea and Singapore, have had to found their economic expansion on a mixture of innovation and production. As it became too tempting for the latter not to be outsourced, these economies looked to places like Red China. Not great, but tolerable to a degree.
However, further integration has a danger. Greater involvement with Red China has not been shown to be beneﬁcial for innovation. While a corporation ﬁnds production cheap and the proﬁts healthy, as is the case when one initially deals with Red Chinese factories, it loses its incentive to innovate. Its trade secrets shift to the state-controlled ﬁrms. This is not a strong argument: it can be corrected by corporate-cultural shifts. But unfortunately, this is the reality: only ﬁrms that are strong with their cultures can stand it, and we know that anywhere in the world, these are in the minority.
We need to examine the statistics. The Republic, which is already well exposed to Red China in terms of private investment, did poorly economically last year. South Korea and Japan, less exposed percentage-wise to Red China, fared far better. Economic ties have not served the Republic well.
Engagement with Red China is necessary if we are to steer it into a freer society and, hopefully, lead all Chinese people (whether Han, Tibetan, or any other group) into self-determination. But to follow the advice of state agencies, blindly accepting propaganda (oops, I mean, journalism) in the east and west of Red China’s economic miracle (based on ﬁgures released by the Politburo itself), and not questioning articles that make the Republic appear like a petulant, rogue island, are fatal to the global economy.
It weakens one image that all Chinese business people would like to have, I believe: that we are a honourable people who can show that globalization can be done ethically and morally, to the beneﬁt of all. I see the goodwill that expatriate Chinese like myself washed down the toilet each time I read more junk from Beijing, designed to trick the ignorant westerner.
And all it takes for companies in the Republic, or indeed, anywhere, is to think ﬁrst of people, then proﬁts—but alas, such simple shifts in ideals are too hard for so many corporations, as their intellectual and economic advantages are surreptitiously shifted to the Red Chinese state.
Del.icio.us tags: China Red China Chinese economy integration innovation globalization Hong Kong human rights ethics global economy Posted by Jack Yan, 06:53
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