Is Taiwan at War or Peace?

August 21, 1993

In a world of war, it is natural for the citizens of a country or the members of a distinct ethnic group to be suspicious of foreigners. Any assistance given to foreigners, even some that involves mutual benefit, can be dangerous. Thus, regulations that make it difficult for foreigners to visit, restrictions on where they can go, restrictions on employment, and discriminatory travel, employment, or business laws are to be expected and often desirable for practically everyone.

In a world of war and a world of peace, it is natural for anyone to oppose competition from workers and businesses who can offer a lower price or more desirable service. Many citizens and members of a distinct ethic group prefer restrictions and discriminatory treatment against foreigners in order to improve their employment or business prospects. However, whatever improvement they achieve in this way comes at the greater expense of buyers, who must pay higher prices than the competition would allow. Although such restrictions are good for some, they are bad for most. Moreover, if one country imposes restrictions, it may prompt some form of retaliatory restrictions and discrimination from other countries. It may create an environment in which the voters or officials in each country are more concerned about "fair treatment" than about overall gains from trade. It may even lead to war.

If Taiwan is at war, then it should keep its restrictions and discriminatory treatment of foreigners. If it is at peace, it should eliminate them. It should get rid of laws that discriminate against foreign workers, teachers, and businesses in order to bring the greatest benefit to its citizens and in order to join the international employment and business community. True, some less efficient Taiwan workers and producers will be hurt; but others will benefit. And the overall gains to the country, both in material terms and in world stature, will rise greatly.

Copyright © 1996 by James Patrick Gunning

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