March 16, 2004

France - true friend of Democracy

This is really unbelievable... From Reuters comes this story: bq. China, France Hold Naval Drill Before Taiwan Vote China and France will hold rare joint naval exercises off the mainland's eastern coast on Tuesday, just four days before Beijing's rival, Taiwan, holds presidential elections. bq. China's official Xinhua news agency made no link between the exercises off Qingdao -- about 780 miles from Taiwan's northernmost point -- and the election. bq. But the show of military strength and solidarity signaled China's desire to isolate the self-governing island before the vote and its first-ever referendum, which Beijing views as a provocative step toward independence. bq. "It's the biggest in scale and the most substantial in content of an exercise between the Chinese navy and a foreign navy," Xinhua said on Monday, quoting Ju Xinchun, the captain of the destroyer "Harbin." And the "drills" themselves - why are they being held? bq. The drills would be China's first to be conducted on the high seas with a major Western power, Xinhua said. China held its first-ever joint naval exercises with Pakistan last October. bq. French President Jacques Chirac, keen to strengthen ties with China and win French business a firm footing in the rapidly growing market, sided with China in January in opposing Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's plan to hold a referendum on missile defense alongside presidential elections on March 20. Ahhh - for the $$$. France is selling out a friendly democracy so they can profit. How -- unnhh -- French... Now, did China try this before? bq. China, whose 2.5 million-strong military represent the world's largest standing armed forces, menaced Taiwan with missile tests and war games in the run-up to the island's first direct presidential elections in 1996 to try to dissuade voters from re-electing President Lee Teng-hui. bq. The move backfired and Lee won by a landslide. bq. Chinese officials have adopted a more subtle approach ahead of Saturday's elections and have held their tongue to avoid driving Taiwan voters into the camp of the pro-independence Chen. This will be an interesting one to keep an eye on... I'll be following up as things progress. Posted by DaveH at March 16, 2004 9:42 AM