"The Taiwanese That We Don't Love"
As China and Taiwan battled across the globe to establish or maintain diplomatic relationships with various nations, lots of money are apparently being thrown around. From inside China or Taiwan, the perspective is usually about what China or Taiwan is doing. Meanwhile, the foreign countries exist as inanimate objects in the distance.
On this day, the Apple Daily headline was "The Santa Claus from Taiwan," which was used in a Paraguayan newspaper Última Hora in reference to the massive amounts of aid (USD 457 million) that Taiwan has provided in recent years.
In the following, I have translated from Spanish an opinion piece in Última Hora. The attitude expressed here should be common enough. Checkbook diplomacy works as long as the money is better than anyone else is offering. When someone else offers a lot more, there is no loyalty to speak of; instead, there was only a simmering resentment all along. The writer also wishes to distinguish between money used to aid economic development versus money in the pocketbooks of politicians. It should be clear that these comments apply to any other country in the world engaged in checkbook diplomacy (China, Taiwan, the United States, Venezuela, etc).
The Taiwanese That We Don't Love. By Rubén Penayo.
"Made in Taiwan." From the wristwatches to the latest fashionware made with materials of digital technology, the inscription repeats itself. The island of Formosa has another product: dubious donations. Or, better said, the plate of gifts at the banquet of power. This is said to buy goodwill. Here and in China!
President Chen Shui-bian has the obligation to revise this policy on account of the consequences that it generates locally as well as the prestige of the country that he leads. It is done better in the area of economic development.
The critical conscience of the citizens in his country wants him to compete for markets and get recognition (such as entry into the United Nations), but not to enrich the accounts of the presidents of allied countries.
To cite a few examples, Arnoldo Alemán (Nicaragua), Mireya Moscoso (Panama) and Miguel Ángel Rodríguez (Costa Rica) know this. The first person is in jail and the others have one foot in it already.
But the ball has two sides and, with respect to the governments of these places, if the only things that they can put forward for their countries are the hand of the beggar and the voracity of a thick-skinned person, then punishment in the elections shall be their destiny.
[omitted one paragraph on domestic politics in Paraguay]
Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party represented a change (he won his first presidential election in 2000 and then again in 2004) after five decades of the Nationalist Party regime. Nevertheless, there has been no material difference in external conduct and the same errant path was followed.
The corrupt culture of millions of dollars serves poorly for that other Taiwanese culture which counts knowledge, discipline, honesty, industriousness and balance among its positive aspects.
Persisting in the same will reduce history into a simple myth. These are the Taiwanese that we don't love. Salute!