Tue, Jul 08, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Hong Kong can teach us a lesson

By Trong Chai 蔡同榮

The popular protest against Article 23 of Hong Kong's Basic Law shows us, with abundant clarity, that even though China promised that Hong Kong would not change for 50 years following its return to China, it is, to our surprise, changing already after a mere six years. In the end, the "one country, two systems" unification strategy has not stood the test of time.

Having observed China's promises proving to be empty so soon, I call for all unificationists harboring the "one country, two systems" illusion and accepting the "Hong Kongization" of Taiwan to take a good look at Hong Kong's situation and think about Taiwan's future. It is time to wake up.

The return of Hong Kong to China was followed by a short honeymoon. That honeymoon, however, was meant to be a part of the unification war on Taiwan and to present the international community with a false image. It was only meant to cloud the true image the international community had of China's evil leadership.

As expected, less than five years into the honeymoon, a comparison of Hong Kong before and after 1997 shows that real-estate values have fallen to 30 percent of pre-1997 levels, that the number of bankruptcies have increased by seven times, that 1.5 million people live below the poverty line, that the number of people seeing themselves as Chinese had fallen to 22 percent by late last year, that unemployment rates have reached 7.4 percent and that the number of job vacancies has fallen the most among specialized and managerial-level administrative positions. These facts should be given serious consideration.

Over the past few years, many people have lost confidence in the administrative region and harbor the illusion that China is the new immigration paradise. In fact, if we look at Hong Kong, comparing the above figures to Taiwan, we'll see that acceptance of Chinese rule is nothing less than a dead-end street. It is an undeniable fact that, at the moment, less than 15 percent of the people of Taiwan approve of the "one country, two systems" concept.

I still remember China's former president Jiang Zemin (江澤民), when he handed over his duties as secretary-general of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), saying that since China's international status was both dignified and honorable, the people of Taiwan should be honored to be a part of China. Maybe he didn't know that even though China behaves as a hegemon internationally, it is one of the countries with the lowest overall quality of life and the highest ratings in human-rights violations and corruption indices. I would guess that most Taiwanese already know whether they would be happier as citizens of China or Taiwan.

Are the people under Chinese rule happy? Let's begin to explore this issue from the seriousness of China's human-rights violations. A report from the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights published in March this year points out that the international impression of China was that it has a bad human-rights record. Examples of the Chinese government violating human rights "are still common."

Criticism of China by international human-rights organizations includes torture of religious followers and depriving them of religious freedom; not respecting the human rights of citizens and arresting migrant workers without proper cause; allowing schools to extract any fees they want, thus depriving the poor of the right to an education; strictly prohibiting gatherings and demonstrations, thus depriving its people of the freedom of expression; having a medical system that harms its people, with sloppy surgery and high fees, creating a free market for blood plasma and ignoring the lives and health of its people; controlling publishing and news, thus depriving its people of the freedom of information; and planned pregnancies and the forced sterilization of women.

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