Friday, March 30, 2007

Dropping a Rock on Their Own Foot

An interesting report on the growing theoretical ability of China to pressure Taiwan using growing economic links.

Yet in practice it hasn't worked out for China. Indeed, the report says the Chinese tend to target the Taiwanese business people in any crisis, harming those that in theory should be most favorable to the mainland because of financial interests:

The Beijing leadership—by attacking one of the few groups left in Taiwan with a reasonably positive impression of it—has, in the words of an old Chinese saying, “lifted a rock only to drop it on its own foot.” China has at its disposal a potentially powerful weapon to keep Taiwan from drifting away. But there is serious doubt whether Beijing’s leaders have the political self-restraint to use this weapon effectively over the long run. Whenever Beijing has grown irritated with Taipei, Taiwan businesspeople operating in China have made exceedingly tempting targets.

While the impact of Taiwan on China's economy is clearly far less from the disparity in size, I wonder if Taiwan could exert influence on Chinese behavior out of proportion to the amount of investments if the money was targeted to regions that would be useful as a staging area for a Chinese attack on Taiwan. If those areas had more to lose in a conflict, might they subtly or overtly resist efforts to use their land to kill the island that lays their golden eggs?

I think that we have to break out of the habit of assuming we are on the strategic defense and look for ways to defeat the communist Chinese regime.