October 4th 2003

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Is the Murray River really dying?

EDITORIAL: Britain, US vindicated over Iraq

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Will Carmen Lawrence sink Simon Crean?

MEDIA: New TV Code's drastic cuts to 'G' program time

SUNRAYSIA: Family farmers v. corporate agriculture

CANCUN: Why the WTO's free trade agenda collapsed

ASIA: Why India will not send troops to Iraq

DRUGS: Kings Cross injecting room's $2.4m road to nowhere

LETTERS: Time running out for Beijing (letter)

LETTERS: Sugar industry (letter)

AGRICULTURE: Queensland sugar deregulation stalls


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Time running out for Beijing (letter)

by Osman Chia

News Weekly, October 4, 2003

Having read Mr Peter Westmore's article "How to help democracy in Hong Kong" (News Weekly, September 6), I have one thing to say: if the Chinese in Beijing ever want to convince the people of Taiwan that China can respect diverse political views, time is simply running out.

After the mass demonstration on July 1, everyone is curious if Beijing will be forgiving of a half-million people protesting against the government when the half-century guarantee runs out?

I strongly believe that the highhanded manner in which the anti-subversion bill was presented gives no reason for optimism, nor does the episode encourage Taiwan to place any faith in the "one country, two system" model.

Actually, Hong Kong's "one country, two systems" model has profound implications for Taiwan, where the progress of the experiment is watched closely.

China has offered Taiwan a similar arrangement to coax the island back into the Chinese fold. But Taiwan, which has independently made rapid economic and political progress, is highly suspicious of the offer.

The suspicion arises from the doubts that Beijing can curb its authoritarian ways and let autonomous regions retain the many factors necessary for a flourishing economic and political life.

The challenge pits against each other two defining impulses of the government in Beijing - the desire for prosperity and the desire for unchallenged political control.

In John Huston's 1953 rakish farce Beat the Devil, Peter Lorre describes different national conceptions of time: "Time, time, what is time?" he asks. "The Swiss manufacture it, the French hoard it, the Italians squander it, the Americans say it is money, [and] the English say it does not exist." For the Chinese in Beijing, if they ever want to convince the people of Taiwan that China can respect diverse political views, time is simply running out.

Osman Chia,
Sydney, NSW

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