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Liberal Democracy or Communist Totalitarianism: the battle for Taiwan's future has already begun

Taiwan must recognize the economic dangers posed by communist China, in addition to the military threat

19th Party Congress, Great Hall of the People

19th Party Congress, Great Hall of the People (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Some have said that Chinese telecom companies may put private data at risk, not only Huawei, but any Chinese smartphone manufacturer. This is why Taiwan and other nations have moved to block the use of products manufactured by Huawei, ZTE, Jin Hua, and other companies.

Any telecom product that features cloud service functions is capable of being used as a means of surveillance. Consumers should recognize that these capabilities are present and necessary on all telecom devices. Efficient design and service make such monitoring capabilities a necessary evil.

Therefore, the decision to block the use of such telecom products is not based on the monitoring capabilities of the devices alone. In fact, a decision to ban products from the likes of Huawei, ZTE, or other companies is broadly based on two other considerations. Namely, whether a company can be considered trustworthy or responsible, and whether or not there is an appropriate regulatory apparatus to monitor the conduct of that company.

Many nations throughout the world still suffer under totalitarian and autocratic regimes, which refuse others any opportunity for political power in society, keeping government in the hands of an elite coterie. In such societies dominated by oligarchy, the drive for economic gain and a tendency towards corruption are all but guaranteed, since there is no political interference in state affairs.

In situations such as these, the leadership will readily claim that “national interests” supersede all other issues in importance. Such appeals to the national “community” are easily recognizable as the “sheep’s clothing” that they are, which is little more than a call to protect the oligarchic system of power. In practice this amounts to arbitrarily violating individual citizens’ rights to liberty, private property, and human dignity.

Under the cover of safeguarding “national interests,” for-profit corporations and related organizations that might challenge political hegemony via economic power, must be classified as “state-owned enterprises,” and operate at the behest of the political class. Leaders of a company or organization that are unwilling to accept such an arrangement typically “disappear.”

This mentality and mode of operation can be found at the heart of any communist government.

Liberal Democracy or Communist Totalitarianism: the battle for Taiwan's future has already begun
Global Index of Human Freedom 2018

On Feb. 8, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, said that in the future, any diplomatic partner of the United States that allows use of technology from Huawei, or any other Chinese telecom company, for critical infrastructure “may find themselves in a disadvantage in dealing with (the United States).”

In dealing with countries under the “malign influence” of China, it will be necessary for the U.S. to be “more careful in sharing information, in transacting business," said Sondland. In his remarks, the U.S. Ambassador urged diplomatic allies to choose telecom companies based in Scandinavia as preferred partners for 5G projects moving forward.

In late January, the European Commission’s Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, said that, ever since China passed its “National Intelligence Law” in 2017, the risk of dealing with China in Europe has greatly increased.

The Law requires that any organization or citizen in China must fully support and assist with the work of any national intelligence agency or directive of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). “When it’s written in the law, then we have to understand those risks. They are higher. We cannot be naive anymore,” said Ansip.

There are some who mistakenly believe that the U.S. and Europe are targeting China’s telecom companies in order to undercut China’s economic and commercial success. Although, in fact, the reason is a genuine concern for malicious behavior resulting from infiltration and exploitation of China’s telecom companies by the CCP.

A citizen journalist by the name of Hsieh Min-Hai (謝明海) used the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China as an example, and has warned unceasingly about the threat to free and private enterprise posed by the CCP. “Without economy, there is no dignity” writes Hsieh.

Liberal Democracy or Communist Totalitarianism: the battle for Taiwan's future has already begun
Chinese flags over Hong Kong (Associated Press photo)

Given the distressing situation Taiwan now faces, Hsieh warns that Taiwan must stay vigilant. Hong Kong’s recent experience, and the tendency for those who challenge the CCP to “disappear,” should be all the warning Taiwan needs.

On the economic landscape of China today, one can easily witness how free enterprise and private business are being coerced and subverted to serve the directives of the CCP. Under the totalitarian regime of the CCP, so-called “communist” businessmen must work towards “national interests” above all else.

The utopian vision currently touted by the CCP is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), where all roads lead to China, with no true incentive among the party to share the fruits of their “win-win” trade and infrastructure schemes with “partner” nations.

Meanwhile in Xinjiang, one can observe the intolerance for competing ideologies which is characteristic of China's dictatorship. Members of the Muslim Uighur minority have reportedly been forced to consume pork and drink alcohol, even during their sacred holidays. This callous behavior of the regime will make the Chinese very unpopular across the world, and may even lead to further terrorist attacks.

Observing the troubling outcome of Taiwan’s recent nine-in-one elections, Hsieh remarked that the new mayor of Kaohsiung Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) and his invitation for Chinese citizens to purchase property in Kaohsiung, could cause a tsunami of dangerous economic investment from China.

He urged Taiwan to remain highly alert to the inherent economic and political risks if people like Han are allowed to open the floodgates for such investments. According to Hsieh, Han has already surpassed Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and his “Two sides of the Strait, One Family” remarks, in precipitating potential damage to Taiwan’s autonomy and civil society.

If Taiwanese people hope to ensure their autonomous political future, they cannot allow disinformation campaigns to be as successful as they were in the 2018 nine-in-one elections.

Hong Kong serves as a worrying reflection and clear example of the CCP’s mentality and strategies in action. In mere decades, the world has witnessed the deterioration and loss of basic human rights and social liberty in Hong Kong. Taiwanese people must not be complacent nor negligent in the urgent task of continually safeguarding and improving their liberal democratic system for future generations.

Taiwan’s civil society will not be so carefree if China, a country of 1.4 billion, is given even the slightest opportunity to swallow the island of barely 23 million. Like a single splash of color into a well of the blackest ink, the color of the ink will not change.

Taiwanese people must recognize that if the CCP is successful in achieving their goals for the country, people may indeed become more wealthy, but it will come at the cost of an increasingly undemocratic and unhealthy social environment for the people of Taiwan.