11 January 2020   Leave a comment

The Pew Research Center has published a fascinating report on how American citizens regard the fairness of the US economic system. The report reveals that the vast majority of Americans think the US economic system is unfairly biased toward the interests of the rich.

“The survey finds, among other things, that most Americans believe there is too much inequality in the United States, with a majority of those who hold this view saying that major changes to the economic system are needed in order to address inequality.

“Across income groups, Americans tend to agree that the economic system unfairly favors powerful interests. Two-thirds of upper-income adults (66%) say this, as do 69% of middle- and 73% of lower-income adults. No more than about a third in each income group say the economic system is generally fair to most Americans.”

The report goes over the differences between Democrats and Republicans, and on some of the questions there are sharp divergences. But there does seem to be some common agreement. On the question regarding who in the US has too little power, the answer suggests that most Americans know what is going on in the society: “When it comes to who has too little power and influence in today’s economy, three groups stand out for Americans: people who are poor (75% say this), small businesses (73%) and the middle class (72%).”

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was re-elected in a stunning blow to Beijing’s preferred candidate, the Kuomintang party’s Han Kuo-yu. When Tsai was first elected in 2016, Beijing imposed several strict policies on Taiwan because it was believed that Tsai was less committed to reunification of the island to the mainland. Tsai’s overwhelming victory was attributed to the protests in Hong Kong which made people in Taiwan very suspicious of Beijing’s commitment to the “One Country, Two Systems” policy which was supposed to govern Hong Kong’s government until 2047. It is also likely that Taiwanese voters were thinking of China’s treatment of Uighers and Tibetans in the mainland. The US State Department issued a statement that will likely roil US-Chinese relations:

“The United States congratulates Dr. Tsai Ing-wen on her re-election in Taiwan’s presidential election. We also congratulate Taiwan for once again demonstrating the strength of its robust democratic system, which—coupled with a free market economy and a vibrant civil society—makes it a model for the Indo-Pacific region and a force for good in the world.

“The American people and the people on Taiwan are not just partners—we are members of the same community of democracies, bonded by our shared political, economic, and international values. We cherish our constitutionally protected rights and freedoms, nurture private sector-led growth and entrepreneurship, and work to be positive forces in the international community.

“The United States thanks President Tsai for her leadership in developing a strong partnership with the United States and applauds her commitment to maintaining cross-Strait stability in the face of unrelenting pressure. Under her leadership, we hope Taiwan will continue to serve as a shining example for countries that strive for democracy, prosperity, and a better path for their people.”

The Global Times, which is a reliable indicator of the sentiment of the Chinese government, offers a dim, and somewhat threatening, view of the outcome of the election:

“Tsai’s authorities are able to maintain their rule by playing tricks to woo voters, but they are unable to tie the Taiwan society to the chariot of Taiwan secession. In fact, the Taiwan society has formed a collective consciousness to oppose Taiwan secession among Taiwan people. Even the US has refrained from publicly promoting Taiwan secession, which will lead to a showdown with Chinese mainland. China has enough international support to safeguard its one-China principle. 

“The reelection of Tsai will increase the uncertainty across the Taiwan Straits. It may encourage Tsai and the DPP to take the extreme path. 

“Yet no matter how much uncertainty there is across the straits, the fact that the Chinese mainland is getting increasingly stronger and the Taiwan island is getting weaker is an inevitable reality. In the long run, the role the US can play across the straits will be gradually weakened. Recognizing and complying with the reality is the only feasible option for Taiwan’s peaceful development. If Tsai and the DPP authorities are to lead the island toward the opposite direction, history will label them as a sinner of all Chinese people.”

It is easy to understand Beijing’s discomfort, but one cannot help but feel that Beijing’s behavior toward regions who do not share the common feeling of most Chinese people is largely responsible for the outcome.

Posted January 11, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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