WANING POWER?: While China is currently a rising power, Watanabe Toshio warned that its attempts to claim other territories could spell its demise
By Ko Shu-ling
China is headed for eventual decline, a Japanese expert said at a forum in Taipei yesterday, adding that its attempts to assimilate democratic Taiwan would be costly and unsustainable.
Watanabe Toshio, president of Takushoku University in Tokyo, said recent riots in Tibet and Xinjiang had shed light on China’s eventual decline.
“China has too much on its plate. While it has a problem consuming, it still wants more,” he said.
Eager to take on numerous, impossible missions, China is doomed to fail, he said.
Watanabe made the remarks while addressing the two-day on international seminar on China’s 30 years of economic policy reform. It was organized by the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research and the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).
In his keynote speech, Watanabe said that Taiwan’s population is made up of Aborigines and immigrants from China’s Fujian and Guangdong provinces. Having been ruled by the Japanese and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Taiwan has matured into a democracy that is vastly different from China, he said.
“Many people believe that China could increase its national might if it assimilated Taiwan,” he said.
“However, China is bound to pay a high price for its attempt to do so to an unshakable and mature country,” he said.
Watanabe said that China already has tremendous territory. After incorporating Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, it is now coveting Taiwan, he said.
Rather than spending energy developing, Beijing has wasted its time on assimilating other countries or territories whose culture, religion and people differ from its own.
“The cost of maintaining such a big ‘empire’ is considerably expensive,” he said.
Despite China’s economic growth, Watanabe said its economy would wane if it failed to fairly allocate income and resources, develop its agriculture, ensure employment for poor urban residents and strengthen domestic demand.
“If [Beijing] fails to do so, who can guarantee China’s economy will not collapse after the 2012 World Fair in Shanghai?” he said.
When asked by the Taipei Times whether Washington should play a bigger role in the Taiwan Strait, Watanabe said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) seemed reluctant to see that happen, which worried him and many Japanese.
“I myself am very anxious about it, and many Japanese share the same fear,” he said.
With China’s power increasing and that of the US decreasing, Watanabe said Washington “may decide to shake hands with” Beijing, and if that happens, the alliance between Washington and Tokyo was bound to weaken.
MAC Deputy Minister Chao Chien-min (趙建民), who delivered the opening remarks, said the rise of China was unprecedented in the history of humankind, adding that this also creates risks.
One of the negative impacts included high unemployment, he said.
Chao said China’s Institute of Quantitative Economics and Technical Economics estimated this year’s jobless rate at about 9 percent. The Ministry of Labor and Social Security placed it at around 4.5 percent. Renmin University of China, however, predicted that it could hit 24 percent or 27 percent.
Other problems the Chinese government must deal with, he added, included conflict between employers and employees, land disputes, constant demonstrations and corruption.