Editorial Posted , Sept 30, 2020 Dedicated to Tsai Ing-Wen, President Taiwan
Clash of Civilizations, Democracy redefined.
My years of experience living and working mostly in Taiwan after a couple in Thailand has taught me many lessons about the Chinese. For almost 15 years being part of a strong Taiwanese family with a beloved and largely apolitical Chinese father in law and strongly proud Taiwanese Mother-In-Law has also given me unique insight to the Taiwanese & Chinese cultures.
Born an English speaking Quebecer of German heritage adapting as a minority to other cultures was a necessary survival skill. While most other friends and family were much less vocal politically, healthy political debates have always defined Quebec culture within Canada. Lets’ also not forget that the French brought democracy into the new world before the Americans and British seriously latched onto it. While BC is my current home, like Quebec it has its share of convenient double standards. I can only shake my head in disbelief at the so called naturalists and anti pipeline activists while BC dumps raw sewage into the ocean closing beaches at times as a result. Meanwhile rail shipments of oil from Alberta pose even worse safety risks. Canadian provinces hold widely divergent views on China depending on their unique geographic advantage, financial benefits and language protection.
Thankfully I took the opportunity to experience and learn many valuable life skills in Asia by living within local communities. I integrated fully and by choice had minimal peer contact and influence from those with similar non-Asian backgrounds in general. In addition to feeling peaceful and safe within harmonious Taiwan communities after following Buddhism in Thailand I learned how to negotiate and enter into mutually beneficial contracts on a moderate level. I learned that survival in Asia depends on learning how to prepare for the polar opposite positions of ones’ expectations over whatever timeframe may apply. This includes the interpretation of contracts for which legal clauses are always subject to language interpretation by the dominant party, a serious disadvantage to non-Chinese. Whether this is my untrusting nature it also seemed that one was invariably being maneuvered in Asia into agreement term acceptance subject to unilateral changes, like a tenant landlord relationship. As a non-Chinese, the risk reward equations always favored the house.
Many Chinese believe that communism destroyed their cultural heritage. Being the ultimate pragmatists many play both sides and instinctively guard against admitting this loss publicly lest it weaken their individual negotiating positions, financial opportunities as well as their patriarchic family structure. The concept of democracy and fairness within Chinese families has only in the last decades evolved to even recognize gender equality. If Chinese parents didn’t explain to their children that one should not expect families to be fair, the entire traditional inheritance model always to the first Chinese son would collapse. Hence, in traditional Chinese and many Asian families the men, women and children maintain their place within the family, within the community and the culture. No doubt there are men within democracies that can only envy these dynamics.
And so the rhetorical question China President Xi has floated higher at the UN General Assembly in September 2020 as a negotiating tactic if one was listened to the telecast , is all about raising questions on whose governance model is really more democratic. The concept of elections is conveniently lost in this politicized moral zero sum contest given the ugly specter of the current US Nov 2020 elections. Was this UN speech by Chairman Xi also the first ever by the highest ranking communist on this planet muttering under his breath the importance of protecting democracy, if only in passing. His comment, so unbelievable could easily have been missed, given its hypocrisy with the Covid19 coverups, Hong Kong subjugation, Indo-Pacific military actions, pandemic profiteering and Maoist ideology close to Xi’s heart.
It seems Xi has settled on the narrative of who is the more fake democracy as an effective PR tactic for the pre American election phase, post Covid19 lower profile and Hong Kong illegal take over. (See paid advocacy post by Taicanada.com on Hong Kong, Sept 30-2020). With control of many International organizations now either purchased outright by China like the W.H.O. (World Health Organization) or nominated by dictator majority membership such as the UN Human Rights tribunal the CCP is play acting its democratic face on cue for the world to see. No longer satisfied in just arguing the international moral high ground for governance on issues like racism, human rights and equality they believe they can now redefine the English word “Democracy” with superior Chinese Characters. This as they roll out their high tech population surveillance, social "report your neighbor" points and Xin Jiang re-education camps. Sure we have communist parties running for election even within democracies although almost invariably once in power, free elections can suddenly end. Witnessing the confusion and accusations around electoral irregularities in America today has further empowered many authoritarian regimes to avoid, discredit or tilt elections.
It also seems that many Americans do not consider their nation to be democratic given the views of the BLM, anti-maskers, anti-social distancing and even Police defunding movements. Removing Police public security, perhaps replacing it with CCP public surveillance in a nation with the highest crime rate and incarcerations may no longer be constrained by privacy laws. This solution may be closer than we think. In America, is democracy currently on life support when the decisive actions needed to protect our health in a pandemic or general public security during openly violent protest is simply lost between State, Federal and Supreme court jurisdictions. If Americans are now losing their fundamental educational and core beliefs on the value of democracy or feel it no longer exists then who stands and fights for it. To survive, democracy requires an almost ongoing commitment to protect it or it will fail, as Rome fell.
Governments can only do so much at this time. Globalists seem blinded by corporate profits and so willing to ignore the underlying legal trust elements in multilateral trade and contract agreements. Multinational Corporation stock valuations are dependent on China manufacturing and Asian market hopes. Thus they are willing to even lobby for the one sided or nebulous Chinese terms regardless of National security. The thousands of Canadian and American firms that outsource to China accept a CCP State representative on the Board of Directors for its China based operations. Anything to get the deal. Trade agreements dependent on the legal validity of treaties like the 1997 Hong Kong international transfer agreement initially set to expire 2047 are meaningless if one country like China dominates and unilaterally changes the rules as they please. Since the illegal annexation of HK, America has now terminated (3) major agreement with China.
The intricacies and hypocrisies of Chinese society today are as difficult today for westerners to understand as they were hundreds of years ago, despite globalization. The many Chinese language dialects and language characters often impart multidimensional understanding that is often not rationale in a linear logistic sense. Not only is this missed by most westerners but it conveniently serves as a natural barrier against changes needed within China CCP governance. Inevitably the rice ball gets pushed along by party bureaucrats. While this insidious power has been overcome by adopting US rule of law by Taiwan for example, even within this admirable democracy legal arguments can hinge on critical facts that are lost by convoluted language interpretation.
Canada remains a country with very different provincial global perspectives. Having worked in every province as an Engineer, or other role, our provincial identities and beliefs vary widely. BC enjoys the greatest profits in both Real Estate and as the shipping trade hub for ever increasing China made goods as it rises to the top. Meanwhile, Alberta after subsidizing much of the country gets locked in by BC resource trade barriers as Eastern Canada manufacturing succumbs to the unstoppable state subsidized wave of China made goods. Sure Canadians have an electoral choice to remove leaders who fail to challenge or plan long term solutions to sustain our national self-sufficiency. We are therefore still considered a democracy or is that fake ?, Is it not really the multinational corporations who ultimately decide where the jobs go even on no brainer decisions worth billions like fabricating hockey sticks and sports equipment for "Our Game" .
And so Xi’s rhetorical question on which governance model is more a fake democracy will illicit interest either subconscious or otherwise relative to the increasing divisiveness within traditional democracies. As with many Chinese tools the multidimensional nuances of such a tactic I believe is profound leaving opportunities at polar opposites of expectations. CCP propaganda on the believability that China is now a democracy, fits perfectly to counter its racist One China principle that seeks to Nationalize all overseas Chinese. For China the concept of democracy and human rights is not a core value, it’s a negotiating position. Its’ authoritarian regime is so deceptively insidious that this clash between civilizations will either painfully erode our countries through decades of attrition or ignite global conflict. (See the recently published "Insidious Power" edited by Michael Cole)
In many respects, individualism has been an integral driver of democracy. Excessive individualism and special interest groups have clashed with and often undermined the best interest of communities in democracy. It was individualism that powered productive critical thinking and creative innovation through the industrial revolution and through the current information technology. It effectively countered democracies growing individual indulgences and excesses. As democracies outsource manufacturing and fetter away unprotected IP, the productive sides of our healthy society disappear. No longer does individualism offer benefits if only hopeful to outweigh its costs to society. Its' workers become mere intermediary and expendable cogs in the larger machinery of the global factories proudly humming along in China. Dissatisfaction and hopelessness from pointless labor are strong drivers for fundamental redefinition of governance models.
Democracy is and will be redefined as the process of yielding control to a more authoritarian leadership model grows through this volatile clash of civilizations. Does our next generation realize that globalization is more than just inter-racial justice and global environmental accords ? The fundamental redefinition of democracy that ultimately changes our laws will be slow and likely tumultuous under these indirect influences. For one I am thankful that I lived at a time when democracies lead global production and was always self-sufficient. I could feel that my paycheck was a contribution to our country, to our community and to my future. Frankly I could never feel that way working in an Amazon warehouse making sure that the 80% to 90% of goods made in China reached all corners of our consumer nations.