Recent sanctions leveled against Iran seem troublesome, and as some (like Ron Paul) have indicated, seem to be the last or next-to-last step before armed conflict in our relations. In my case, trying to promote freedom and liberty by constricting it (to a country that would greatly benefit from it) seems counterproductive. In the case of Iraq, crippling sanctions resulted in the deaths of half a million children and women in the 1990s. Hardly justifiable. Sanctions have also failed in North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. No regime change is apparently imminent in either country. Instead, some of the poorest and most repressed on the earth become even poorer as their trade with other countries is restricted. A far better policy would be to follow the Golden Rule, treating other countries as we would want to be treated. This method would lead to greater peace and prosperity, and would make America the “city on the hill” it aspires to be, rather than the “king of the hill” it sometimes appears to be.
However, there is some good news to be found. For one, Turkey and Brazil tried to go the third-party enrichment route (Iran’s refusal was reportedly the US’s rationale for issuing the sanctions in the first place), and though they succeeded in getting Iran to agree to having its uranium enriched elsewhere, both countries were informed it was too late, and that the sanctions were going forward. Both boldly opposed the sanctions.
Russia and China were both interested in softening the sanctions; and soften them they did. What the UN passed was far from the “crippling sanctions” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised to impose. One of the biggest reasons was that China and Russia insisted on softening the sanctions, or they would not be passed. I applaud such efforts to reduce the costliness of sanctions on a country that definitely could benefit from trade, especially at this juncture.
Taiwanese and Chinese relations are growing closer. This is an exciting international piece of news!
Since 2008, and the election of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, there have been increasing closeness with regards to transport and trade. For years, there were tensions, even high tensions, between the China (sometimes called the “mainland”) and Taiwan. I recall a cruise missile incident about fifteen years ago which seemed scary. Taiwanese presidents would provoke mainland Chinese anger by intimating that they were independent of mainland China, or that they would like to be so. The People’s Republic of China has long been bristling at such notions. President Ma has more of a “building on common beliefs” philosophy with respect to China-Taiwan relations, and it seems to be working well. He works with the mainland on issues of mutual interest in a way that is innocuous or at least inoffensive to mainland China.
How have the countries grown closer? Consider trade, for one.
Since 2000, direct trade between the countries was $31 billion. In 2008, it was $100 billion. Even with this increase, Taiwanese businesses and entrepreneurs would like even more trade barriers removed. At this juncture, Taiwan and China are working on a trade agreement (called Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement) which would enable even closer ties with fewer trade restrictions and tariffs.
Another difference would be travel. In 2000, individuals desiring to travel from Taiwan to mainland China had to go through Hong Kong (and vice versa). This restriction was recently lifted, and direct flights to the mainland are now commonplace.
In a world where the West (Europe and North America) seems increasingly statist and bent on cluelessly spending itself into oblivion, those in the East, especially China and India, seem to be moving in the other direction, at least in some aspects. These are to be applauded.
I look forward to the day when the doors of the Gospel will be opened in mainland China. Increasing closeness with Taiwan can only help in this regard.