Way too early to tell but so far, so good

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 January, 2013, 4:20am

It may end in the number "13", and heaven forfend that we tempt fate, but can't you just feel the love as everyone gets back to work in a year off to a wonderful start? Even as I write, the stock market is reaching for the heavens of pre-September 2008, spurred on by the United States' last-minute swerve ahead of the "fiscal cliff".

Call it hindsight if you will, but it was always going to be thus. The US administration heads for a budget crunch in which civil servants go unpaid, welfare cheques bounce and the wheels of the economy shudder to a halt, plunging the rest of the world into famine. How many times has this scenario not been reported over the years, only to be avoided at the last minute? President Barack Obama's wink, captured by news photographers as he emerged from talks with his adversaries, kinda gave the game away.

There is other news to buoy the spirits, not least Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, in a New Year's Day speech in Taipei, summoning up the bottle to call the new Communist Party general secretary "Mr Xi Jinping" . It's like someone whose wife has left him for another man. Only when he is able to refer to the cad by his actual name do we know that the pain and anger have subsided, somewhat. If a similar principle applies to Taiwan and the mainland, can we look forward to a reconciliation that will formally end one of the world's cruelest wars? It's a peace long overdue for all China's people, and it can only be good for the rest of the world.

Not to be outdone by signs of an early thaw across Taiwan Strait, even the Koreas are getting into the mood. There, too, hostilities have been going on for far too long. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's own New Year's Day speech, calling for closer ties with South Korea, may be a mere teenie-weenie baby step on the long road to reunification, but the South's president-elect, Park Geun-hye, has made similar noises.

Some of us have had the good fortune to see the end of apartheid and the Berlin Wall within our lifetimes. But that was decades ago and some of us born since then have now reached adulthood. It is time that history follows up with something at least as special. China and Korea - take your cue, the audience has been waiting patiently long enough.