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The Economist on Taiwan

Typically, the Economist has an eminently sensible article on the current dispute between Taiwan and China over the suggestion by Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, that he might support holding a referendum on declaring indepedence from China:

One can question whether it was wise of Mr Chen to anger the Chinese, but what he said was surely right. It is merely a recognition of reality to say that China and Taiwan are two states, not one: Taiwan may not have many embassies, thanks to relentless Chinese bullying of weak-spirited governments everywhere, but it is a member of the World Trade Organisation and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation group. It competes in the Asian and Olympic Games (under the absurd name “Chinese Taipei”). It has an elected president and an elected parliament, and its 20m people enjoy rights and prosperity unknown to the 1.2 billion across the strait.

By routinely threatening force against Taiwan, China equates itself with Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein, both of whom shed blood to preserve their empires. Until it desists from such talk -- even if talk is all it is -- China can never be a full member of the community of civilised nations.

Indeed. Taiwan is a prosperous democracy. Its people have the right to self-determination. The world community has allowed China to isolate Taiwan over the last few decades, which seems outrageous to me. China periodically threatens to leave world institutions if Taiwan is admitted at all, or is admitted under its own name. It's time we called China's bluff and supported the Taiwanese in such matters. If we fail to do so, then the West's claims about supporting democracy are a sham.

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