Libmonster ID: U.S.-1203
Author(s) of the publication: V. SKOSYREV

DIPLOMATIC BOYCOTT DOESN'T STOP TAIWAN FROM TRADING WITH THE WORLD

An economical car that runs not on gasoline, but on electricity, is a longed-for dream of designers in many countries. Dmitry Belov is bringing this dream closer, but, alas, not in Russia, but abroad - in Taiwan. And imagine, even if I was far away from my homeland, in a foreign language environment: everyone around me speaks Chinese, and feels quite comfortable.

- There are conditions for doing what you love here. The equipment, though not the latest, is good. My colleagues are very friendly. The Industrial Technology Research Institute (on the outskirts of Taipei) is organized so that if you need instruments from another laboratory, you can access them. And, most importantly, it's not a problem to find people who are interested in your work and are willing to finance it. Even if the project does not promise a quick profit, - says Dmitry.

At the academic institute in Chernogolovka, where Dmitry used to research conducting polymers, no one wanted to allocate funds for his work. And there was no modern equipment. So he accepted an offer from the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Taiwan seven years ago, and he doesn't regret it at all.

Dmitry likes everything in Taiwan, even the climate, in my opinion, is quite humid and hot. The people are friendly, but there is practically no theft. He rides around the city and to work on a motorcycle. "Sometimes, when you get home, you forget to take the key out of the ignition," says Belov. "In the morning, you find out that someone did it for you and put the key under your helmet."

SHELTER FOR FOREIGN SCIENTISTS

The fact that Taiwan, an island with a population of 23 million and devoid of any mineral resources, became one of the "Asian tigers" a decade and a half ago is not news. And today it continues to show good growth rates, especially in exports. Here's just one example:: in terms of foreign trade, this small country ranks 16th in the world. However, it is not easy to hold this place. Previously, Taiwan tried to stay ahead of its competitors in the textile industry and the production of automobile spare parts. But China and other Asian countries, where workers are paid much less, "pulled the blanket over themselves." We had to switch to the production of high-tech products, says Dairy Chu, an employee of the Hsinchu Science Park, located a few dozen kilometers from Taipei. This park, conceived as a center of innovation, was created a quarter of a century ago with government money. Foreign companies, such as Apple, which produced computers and software, quickly appreciated the skills and hard work of Taiwanese people and began to establish branches in the park.

- We don't like noise, unlike the Japanese and South Koreans. Those who start a big business abroad form their own company and strive to capture a part of the market, " says Chu. - And the Taiwanese have not yet created their famous brands, they do not act alone, but join the already working giants. For example, the American medical corporation Johnson & Johnson takes "spare parts" for the knee joint and other organs from a Taiwanese company specializing in biotechnology and supplies them to surgeons in the United States.

Taiwan is also well advanced in the production of liquid crystal displays. Signals for pedestrians at intersections with a moving little man on the screen - local production. These devices are available in many countries.

"Our scientists were not pioneers in the manufacture of plasma panels," he continued-

page 42


presses Chu. Priority goes to the Japanese. The company that started their production was practically a monopolist. The employees lived happily ever after. And suddenly this company went bankrupt. Specialists were on the street. Imagine: you can't afford to pay for your children's education at the best colleges, cover the cost of housing. For a Japanese man, this is a loss of face - he is no longer respected in the family. We were aware of this and invited unemployed Japanese scientists to join us. They may not get as high salaries as they do at home, but they earn quite well, and they can maintain their usual lifestyle. And Taiwan holds a leading position in the industry. By the way, today 7 out of every 10 laptops in the world are made with the participation of Taiwanese companies. With participation - in the sense that the structure and design are developed in Taiwan, and the assembly is carried out in factories in Suzhou, in mainland China.

My first reaction to what I heard was: this is how the Taiwanese have wisely used this know-how. They kept the intellectual part of the process for themselves, and gave the simpler operations to their compatriots on the other side of the Taiwan Strait.

In fact, relations with the PRC are an extremely sensitive topic for both people on the street and the ruling elite. It affects the fate of everyone, affects both the security of the Republic of China (Taiwan's official name) and the state of the island's economy. Huang Chipeng, Director General of the Foreign Trade Bureau, said in response to my question that such close ties with the mainland are dangerous for Taiwan. But the government can't stop them. Money is drawn to money. Taiwanese companies, especially small and medium-sized ones, attracted by the cheap labor market in China, continue to invest there. This leads to the fact that the PRC, as it were, drains the financial power of Taiwan. Here's what it looks like in currency terms. According to official data, Taiwanese investment in China has reached $ 60 billion, while unofficial estimates put it at $ 150 billion. or more, if you take into account investments going through Hong Kong.

AN UNSETTLING LULL

Perhaps nowhere is the fragility of relations between Taiwan and China more evident than on the "border" island of Kinmen.

A concrete dugout covered with bushes about a hundred meters from the sea. Through an embrasure in the telescope, you can see a patrol boat, three fishing boats, and a sandbank on the opposite bank. Not a soul in the boats or on the shallows.

The midday heat and the sound of the surf make you sleepy. It seems that a more suitable place for relaxing and swimming is hard to find. But this is a deceptive impression. After all, we are on an island controlled by Taiwan, and the opposite coast is already the People's Republic of China.

In fact, there is no internationally recognized border between Taiwan and China. Beijing considers the island part of China, and Taiwan, although, in the opinion of its government, has a de facto independent status, does not dare to declare a border line between the territories actually controlled by it and the PRC, fearing that the "big brother" would use such a step as an excuse

page 43


to the landing and occupation.

- We would like to bring our border in line with reality. But we are afraid of China's reaction. And so, formally, our territory extends over the whole of China and even includes Mongolia. It's a paradox, but that's how life is, "said Professor Lo Chichen, a senior researcher at the Taiwan Brain Trust, during a conversation in Taipei.

Taiwan is separated from China by a strait about 130 kilometers wide, and from here, from Jin-men, to the mainland only four kilometers. Therefore, while driving to the dugout by car, we often saw soldiers guarding the entrances to the bases, and signs forbidding access to the shore. So the first glimmer of hope to swim had to be forgotten. The fact that we were in a potential conflict zone was also reminded by the pillars topped with sharp peaks sticking out in the middle of the wasteland. These peaks should prevent the landing of skydivers from China.

However, it had been almost thirty years since shells exploded on the island known to the world as Cuemoy. Visitors from abroad or Taiwan can experience what it was like for local residents when they visited the local "battle glory" museum. The room begins to shake, explosions and screams are heard. On the screen are fanzas reduced to rubble, people left homeless.

The shelling of the island by the People's Liberation Army continued for two decades. At times, the situation escalated to such an extent that it seemed that a world war could break out. After all, American instructors helped organize the defense of the Taiwanese military.

PROJECTILE KNIVES

Wu Zendong probably doesn't remember that difficult time very well. It was too small. But then he showed the typical Chinese enterprise when peace came. It was known that the enemy artillery fired about half a million volleys on the island. Cases of unexploded shells were found at every turn. Wu, a blacksmith by profession, began collecting them and buying them up. And forge them into the blades of kitchen knives and penknives. Fortunately, the steel turned out to be excellent - after all, the Soviet Union supplied China with ammunition. Until now, in the workshop where the blacksmith works with assistants, these empty buildings are stacked in several slides.

The question is, was the explosive really of such quality that so many shells remained unexploded? No, this is not about the quality of ammunition, but about the subtleties of relations between the Chinese on different sides of the Strait. During those 44 days, when the shelling was most intense, the PRC, firstly, fired every other day to give compatriots a break, and secondly, some of the shells were filled with propaganda messages instead of explosives.

And now, almost three decades later, Beijing is trying to win over the Taiwanese. Only no longer with leaflets that spew out the muzzles of guns, but with favorable terms of trade and tourism. He offers them direct air and sea connections, and promises discounts to farmers who want to sell their products to China.

This is not to say that this approach does not bear fruit. Li Shuzhen, an imposing woman in her forties, works as an auditor for a company that supplies vodka from Gaoliang to the mainland. Business is booming. In China, each province produces several varieties of vodka. This is not counting the brands that are famous all over the country. Still, the Kinmen vodka sells well. The secret is that Taiwanese people, mostly entrepreneurs who work in China, are used to it. And there are neither many nor few of them-about a million.

Lee often goes to the "other side" on business. And I am happy with the way it is received.

- Chinese citizens are now allowed to visit Jinmen as tourists. Are you not afraid that Beijing will use these visits to prepare for a military operation? - I asked.

"No, I'm not afraid. There was a time when there were battles here. Then my family moved to a place where no shots were fired. But that's in the past. We are all Chinese, we will not fight against each other.

Nor does the fact that people live much better on Jinmen than on the continent bother her. Kindergartens, primary schools, and school breakfasts for students are free of charge. The bus ride is free for a local resident. If a child is born in the family and the mother leaves work, she is paid an allowance for caring for the baby, not to mention a one-time assistance of approximately $ 330. Residents of even the richest cities in China, such as


* A type of sorghum.

page 44


Beijing and Guangzhou can only dream of such social security.

The glaring disparity in living standards and in the rules of the mainland and Taiwan is a reality that Taiwanese people do not forget. A columnist for the Taipei Post newspaper wrote in his column that many of his fellow citizens are tormented by a nightmare: if the island is reunited with the PRC, they will lose everything they have gained.

RED IS THE COLOR OF ANGER

Ms. Li does not share these fears. As do many of her fellow countrymen, who during the elections prefer not the current ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but the Kuomintang Party, which ruled Taiwan until 2000. Then Taiwan held the first ever democratic presidential election, the Kuomintang lost them, and the DPP became in power.

Another paradox of Taiwanese reality. The head of the Kuomintang, Chiang Kai-shek, was the worst enemy of the Communists, waged a war against them for two decades, and after being defeated, he fled to Taiwan with his followers in 1949. Nevertheless, today Beijing is negotiating with the leaders of the Kuomintang to expand ties "between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait." So last fall, negotiations were held between a representative of the Chinese administration and the vice chairman of the Kuomintang Party on protecting the rights of Taiwanese businessmen in China. And Beijing refuses to deal with the ruling DPP and Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian, because in its eyes he is a separatist seeking to declare Taiwan's independence.

Unlike the president, who rejects the "one China" principle as interpreted by the PRC, the Kuomintang agrees that the unification of Taiwan and China can take place, but at some point in the future, provided that a multi-party system is established in China instead of the Communist Party's monopoly on power. Such a prospect looks extremely vague, but it excludes the declaration of independence by Taiwan, and so far Beijing is satisfied with this. And from the Taiwanese point of view, it reduces the risk of a Chinese invasion of the island. That, I think, is why not only my interlocutor, Ms. Li, but also almost a third of voters prefer the Kuomintang over the more radical DPP in the elections.

This confrontation between the two leading parties is described by the press as a struggle between the "blue" (the color of the Kuomintang) and the "green" (the color of the DPP). At first glance, the blue-collar policy that promises a more peaceful life meets the aspirations of Taiwanese people. After all, public opinion polls consistently show that they do not want sudden movements, but prefer to maintain the status quo. But on the other hand, despite the commitment to common cultural traditions, fewer Islanders identify with mainland China, and the majority of respondents call themselves Taiwanese.

Beijing, through the mouth of its top leader Jiang Zemin, in the mid-90s. proposed to resolve differences on the basis of granting the island the widest autonomy. The Chinese president promised to give the Taiwanese the opportunity to preserve not only their government, but also their armed forces - only recognize China's sovereignty over Taiwan. But this "concession" turned out to be unacceptable neither for the leaders of the two leading political parties, nor for the majority of the population.

Strange as it may sound, the history of Taiwan by-

page 45


the last two decades are somewhat similar to the Russian one. We, like the Taiwanese, lived under a one-party dictatorship and left it. In Taiwan, this happened in the late 1980s, when President Jiang Jingo, son of Chiang Kai-shek, lifted the state of emergency. Subsequently, laws were passed guaranteeing citizens freedom of assembly and demonstration, and the ban on publishing new newspapers was lifted.

Democracy has become an integral part of the Taiwanese way of life. It is enough to watch the thousands of people demonstrating outside the presidential palace, which are constantly taking place. Chen's opponents, led by the former chairman of his own party, dressed in red T-shirts (a sign of anger, not communism), accuse the head of state of corruption and chant: "Xia Tai!" "resign! The police calmly observe what is happening and do not interfere. The President, in turn, claims that he did not commit any offenses and is not going to leave.

No one can yet predict how this fight will end. It is characteristic, however, that the problem of relations with the "big brother" does not play a role in this conflict. One thing is clear - Taiwanese people are not going to sacrifice their freedoms for the sake of merging the two parts of China at the moment. They realize that by agreeing to autonomy, they will put their fate in the hands of the leaders of the People's Republic of China.

POPULAR JOKE

Remember a Soviet-era joke? An American tells a Russian: "I can go to the White House and shout,' Nixon is a fool.' Russian answers: "And I can go out on Red Square and shout the same thing." In Taipei, I heard a local version of the same joke. A Taiwanese man tells a resident of China: "I can shout in the street:" Chen Shui-bian is a lousy president." The other person responds: "I can shout it in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, too." Humor of the Soviet era, as we can see, did not die with the disappearance of the Union.

Taiwan's political elite is proud of the freedoms it has won. Professor Lo mentioned above states: "Today's Taiwan is China's tomorrow." In the sense that the PRC will also become a multi-party democracy. But so far, such forecasts resemble beautiful dreams. As China's economic and military power grows, it is increasing its pressure on those countries, mostly small states in Africa, Latin America and Oceania, that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. A few years ago, Taiwan's number of such partners exceeded 30, but now there are only 24. Beijing has lit a "red light" on its path to UN membership.

Beijing's goal is to make Taiwan invisible on the international stage. It even hinders Taiwan's admission to the World Health Organization (WHO) as an observer. At first glance, this is a diplomatic nuance. But Taiwanese doctors endured many anxious days because of it, when an epidemic of avian flu broke out in Asia. WHO has developed treatment recommendations. They were also translated into Chinese. Since there was also a case of human infection with this virus in Taiwan, the local Ministry of Health urgently requested the text of the recommendations from WHO. The international organization's response was: make this request to the People's Republic of China. But the information that could save people from the flu, you need to know immediately.

- China wants to become a dominant power in the Asia-Pacific region. And this plan is being implemented. Chinese influence is growing, but American influence is falling, the Taiwan Think Tank told us. - Look at South Korea. Previously, it was in the American camp, but now it is balancing between the United States and China. Or take other states in the region. They show Beijing special signs of respect. The President of the Philippines is paying his first post-election visit to China. The head of the Thai government, arriving in Beijing, publicly declares that he has Chinese blood in his veins.

Taiwan is trying to break out of isolation by participating in aid programs for poor countries, increasing economic contacts with the outside world. There is no doubt of success here. At the same time, he is forced to spend large amounts of money on strengthening the defense. The United States has purchased Patriot-2 anti-aircraft missiles capable of shooting down missiles and planes. This, according to the Director General of Taiwan's Foreign Ministry, Liu Qinglong, was done in response to China's deployment of surface - to-surface missiles aimed at Taiwan on the coast. Although the PRC is not going to start a war, it is not profitable for it, Liu admits.

Rockets are a means of psychological pressure. Beijing, as it follows from the statements of its official representatives, seeks to prevent the strengthening of the separatist influence in Taiwan, to prevent its declaration of independence.

Be that as it may, tensions in the Taiwan Strait region are not abating. And the blame for this largely falls on the main patron of Taiwan-the United States. Back at the height of the Cold War, Washington, seeking to play the "Chinese card" against the USSR, broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan, withdrew its troops from the island and recognized the PRC. Nevertheless, the United States, despite Beijing's protests, continues to supply Taiwan with weapons, maintains an unofficial mission on the island, and through the mouth of representatives of the State Department calls on both sides to exercise restraint and maintain the status quo.

However, American support for Taiwan is ambiguous. The US does not disclose whether it will defend Taiwan in the event of a military conflict or not. And given the lessons of the Iraq war, a number of analysts in Taipei believe that it is not worth hoping for US intervention. So, it remains to rely on our own strength and buy weapons overseas, while there is such an opportunity.

Taipei - Moscow


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