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A Simple Fix For Our China Crisis

by Joshua Samuel Brown

Up until now, you've been like a dog in a hydrant factory
Dear George W. Bush, President of the United States of America:

Looks like you've stepped in it now, Mr. President, and only three months into your term. International relations can be complicated, George, and China is an especially tricky issue. A century of being carved up like a melon by Westerners has made them extremely sensitive to even the slightest whiff of foreign bullying. All we were doing was spying on their coastline when one of their pilots had to go and earn the posthumous title of "People's Hero" by ramming his plane into ours. Now they've got our plane, and you've got a major headache.

But congratulations! You faced your first major international crisis pretty well. You stepped back from the situation and let the big boys do their thing. The Chinese are right to call you "Xiao Bu Shi," which means "little Bush" (with only a slight change in tone, it can also mean "doesn't suck," but we don't need to go there).

So now what? You're smack dab on top of a major Pandora's Box for sure -- like it or not, George. Dealing with China won't be as simple as your earlier conquests. Up until now, you've been like a dog in a hydrant factory, presiding over the biggest legislative gang rape of Mother Earth in decades with scarcely a whimper from your humbled opponents.

China policy is a different matter entirely. Your conservative backers have diametrically different ideas from your big business patrons on that score. The right wing doesn't like China, and they aren't happy with your apologetic nod eastward (even if you were crossing your fingers at the time). If it were up to them, you'd have used the spy plane crisis to announce a full switching of recognition back to Taiwan, ordering the seventh fleet into Kaoshung harbor.

Your corporate patrons don't care much for politics, though. To them, China is a Godsend -- such a huge population represents an inexhaustible supply of cheap labor, replacing those American workers with their unreasonable demands: forty-hour workweeks, livable wages, humane working conditions all that liberal stuff. And there's always the idea of "1.2 billion" customers to consider.

So, what's a boy president to do? Take the hard line and you risk choking off the Chinese cash-pipeline on your big-biz patrons. Take the moderate approach and your right-wing constituents drop you like a ruptured colostomy bag. Never fear, Mr. President, I'm here to help.

With the Taiwanese in your corner, you might even win the popular vote
My proposal is simple -- a veritable sword -through -Gordian -knot approach that will solve a number of problems at once. Best of all, George, it'll make you a shoe-in for re-election in '04. I offer in good faith. I know that you're no slacker when it comes to repaying your friends. (My dance card is free after June, and I see there are some ambassador positions still available.) Let me give you some background on the problem, and then I'll tell you what we need to do to fix it. And George, try to concentrate.

The problem faced by every president since Carter in dealing with China has to do with Taiwan, that little, leaf-shaped island off the coast. China considers Taiwan an integral part of its territory. Taiwan sees China as a 1600-pound gorilla that wants to be its husband. China is a communist, one-party state, where the one party names the leader. Your backers on the right don't like this much.

Taiwan is a democracy. They chose their leaders by counting votes cast by the people, with the candidate who gets the most votes being named president (they do it a little different over there). Most Americans approve of this system, and the 21.5 million people in Taiwan seem to like it, too.

My solution is simple and pragmatic -- so radical it's bound to throw the Chinese for a loop. A simple trade:

China gives us Taiwan. We give them California.

Under my plan, Taiwan would become the 50th state in the union, and California would become a "Special Administrative Region" of the People's Republic of China. It's a win-win situation for all involved.

California never really has been "part" of America anyway. They have their own language, indecipherable to the rest of America ("Dude?" "Dude!"). Adopting a rigid, state-controlled system will give them the structure they so desperately need and would ask for (if they only had the vocabulary). California's massive power shortages -- an inconvenience to Californians and, frankly, an embarrassment to the rest of the country -- would come to an end as all privately owned utilities are nationalized.

We'd set some ground rules with the Chinese first, of course. They'd have to limit their military presence in California (S.A.R) to numbers sufficient for crowd-control purposes alone. Three armed soldiers per gang member should be adequate. And we'd agree not to build any submarine bases in Keelung harbor.

I've saved the best for last, George, so get ready. We both know that you aren't well loved in California (or at least, outside of Orange County). As it stands, you've got a Mexican's -chance -in -a- Texas -court's hope of winning the state in '04. But those 21.5 million newly enfranchised Taiwanese voters would regard you as a hero. Big time!

By swapping California for Taiwan, you'd virtually guarantee your re-election. The Taiwanese vote -- sometimes more than once. With them in your corner, you might even win the popular vote.

I know it's a radical idea, George, requiring a great deal of finesse to sell on both sides of the Pacific. But -- as you were so fond of telling people on the campaign trail -- you're a "uniter." History will remember you as the man who united the People's Republic of China with the People's Republic of California.

So, think it over. If you like my idea, you can get to work selling it on your side of the fence. Then you can send me to Beijing, and I'll do my part to sell it to them. Bags packed, I am awaiting your reply.

Joshua Samuel Brown has written stories from the jungles of Laos and hobnobbed with high-ranking communists in the underground buffet bunker of the People's Daily in Beijing. He will be writing for the Monitor regularly from China

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Albion Monitor May 19, 2001 (

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