Monday, May 24, 2010

Responses to External Forces, Past and Present, by Japan and China

Responses to External Forces, Past and Present, by Japan and China
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 24, 2010

The proposed signing of the cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) has provoked arguments over whether the government should have an Open Door Policy or a Closed Door Policy, and over internationalization and marginalization.

The nineteenth century Meiji Restoration in Japan and the Qing dynasty Reform Movement of 1898 on the Chinese mainland have often been compared to each other. In fact, the slogans "zun wang rang yi" 尊王攘夷 (honor the emperor by resisting foreigners) and "fu qing mie yang" 扶清滅洋 (help the Qing court, exterminate the foreigners), show the difficulties both experienced resisting aggression by "foreign barbarians." Both were struggles for national salvation, but each of them led to a very different result.

In 1853 America's "black ships" knocked on Japan's door. They provoked a debate over whether Japan should adopt an Open Door Policy or a Closed Door Policy. The political slogan "zun wang rang yi" spoke of resisting the invaders. The debate was fierce, and even led to a small scale civil war. In the end however, the advocates of an Open Door Policy prevailed. Their advocacy of an Open Door Policy over a Closed Door Policy was motivated by a desire to "resist foreigners." Japan witnessed the bloody results of the Sino-British Opium War. They realized that only an Open Door Policy could save their nation.

The Meiji Restoration produced two main results. First, the Meiji Restoration's "da zheng feng huan" 大政奉還 ended the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate. A constitutional monarchy helped the new government consolidate its rule. Secondly, a strategy of rapid opening up and comprehensive reform led to regime change, economic prosperity, a strengthening of the military, the transplantation of new industries, and civilizational advances. Fukuzawa Yukichi's "detachment from Asia and entry into Europe" sums up the thinking of the Meiji Restoration. It denoted total transformation. Finally, Japan's victory in the 1895 Sino-Japanese War essentially validated the Meiji Restoration.

By contrast, consider the Qing court's Self-Strengthening and Reform Movement which occurred at roughly the same time. After 30 years or so, the Self Strengthening Movement begun in 1860 ended in defeat with the Sino-Japanese War. In 1898 the Reform Movement petered out after only one hundred days. All of the Qing court's reform efforts were coopted by the Boxer Rebellion and spun as "Support the Qing, exterminate the foreigners." This led to the humiliation suffered in 1900 at the hands of the Eight Nation Alliance, and the disastrous Boxer Protocol and Boxer Indemnity. Eleven years later, Sun Yat-sen's revolution overthrew the Qing Dynasty. The two slogans "zun wang rang yi" and "fu qing mie yang" were so similar. So why did they lead to such dramatically different outcomes?

Nor was China's tragedy over. Mainland China closed its doors with an Iron Curtain. Only after Mao Zedong's death in 1976, did it introduce its policy of Reform and Liberalization. Only later, in 1992, when Deng Xiaoping gave his "Southern Tour Speech" did the mainland authorities reach a Point of No Return. The Meiji Restoration completed its reform and liberalization in just a few decades. Mainland China's Reform and Liberalization was delayed 110 to 130 years.

But once it passed the 1992 Point of No Return, the Beijing government's courage and wisdom in its Reform and Liberalization efforts have been impressive indeed. The issue of whether to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) provoked a fierce controversy within the mainland government and among the public. Zhu Rongji, its chief sponsor, was denounced as a traitor. His critics compared the acceptance of WTO provisions to Yuan Shi-kai's acceptance of Japan's 21 Demands. Opening up involves pain. One must open up the nation's doors, reduce tariffs, allow "vulnerable industries" to be impacted. But only opening up can create opportunities, and transform the economy from a stagnant pond into a living stream. Lastly, the Beijing authorities are using WTO, and external influence, to compel internal political reform and liberalization, as well as economic transformation and upgrading. As a result, mainland China has become the number one beneficiary of the WTO system, and Zhu Rongji can shrug off the label of "traitor."

Now it is Taipei's turn to choose between an Open Door Policy and a Closed Door Policy. The debate is essentially over whether to resist Beijing and globalization by opening up, or to resist Beijing and globalization by closing down. The Meiji Restoration policy of "zun wang rang yi" helped the new government consolidate its rule. It created social cohesion, enabling it to withstand external shocks. On Taiwan however, the opposition DPP wants use "resisting foreign aggression" merely as a pretext for internecine political struggle. It wants to use "love for Taiwan" merely as a populist rallying cry, and merely to incite hatred for [mainland] China. In fact it is little different from the Boxer Rebellion's "support the Qing court, exterminate the foreigners." At least the Boxer Rebellion's "zun wang rang yi" (honoring the emperor by resisting foreigners) supported the Qing court. Slogans such as "love Taiwan, hate China" on the other hand, are intended merely to force Ma Ying-jeou to step down over the "early harvest list." The "zun wang rang yi" policy of honoring the emperor by resisting foreigners and the "fu qing mie yang" policy of helping the Qing court eliminate foreign influences, advocated national unity in response to foreign aggression. Opposition DPP accusations that the Ma administration "panders to [mainland] China and is selling out Taiwan" on the other hand, deliberately distort the facts. They are clearly merely about political infighting. Pitting "vulnerable industries" against "conglomerates" meanwhile, merely replicates the internal power struggles that occurred during the Cultural Revolution, inciting the proletariat to exterminate the capitalists.

In the controversy between an Open Door Policy and a Closed Door Policy, the opposition DPP has failed to match Japan's wisdom during the Meiji Restoration, or mainland China's courage during Reform and Liberalization. Advocates of a Closed Door Policy on Taiwan have the same mindset as the Boxers. They have merely substituted "love Taiwan, hate China" for "honor the emperor, exterminate foreigners." They are merely using "vulnerable industries" as a bargaining chip during internal power struggles. They are merely parroting the "support the proletariat, exterminate the capitalists" slogans popular during the Cultural Revolution.

Zhu Rongji has finally gotten his day in court. He is finally able to shrug off the label of "traitor." How long do advocates of a Closed Door Policy on Taiwan intend to demagogue the issue of "pandering to [mainland] China and selling out Taiwan?"

尊王攘夷 扶清滅洋 傾中賣台
2010.05.24 02:36 am











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