Hong Kong's clique-like chief executive election was held between 9am and 11am on March 25. After only half an hour, it was clear Chief Executive Donald Tsang (
Immediately upon hearing the result and in the presence of all electors, Tsang shed tears before cruising the city in a convertible, thanking Hong Kong citizens for supporting him.
Tsang's tears and his decision to thank his supporters on the streets were unexpected, for he was considered virtually certain to win because of Beijing's backing. Those Hong Kong people whom Tsang "thanked" had no voting rights -- highlighting the hypocrisy of his decision to do so. And the Hong Kong government's fear that the public would launch a protest over the election result was the reason the polling station was located on an offshore island near the international airport.
Beijing appeared excited over Tsang's victory, since it was the result of what Tsang -- in an attempt to cover up the hypocrisy of the election -- claimed to be "the high support for his nomination, the high number of votes received and his high popularity."
The high support and high number of votes received were par for the course, as the 800 electors were appointed in accordance with the Basic Law, which was written to ensure most of them would be Beijing loyalists.
Tsang's support, however, was still not as high as that of his predecessor Tung Chee-hwa (董建華), who was re-elected with over 700 votes in 2002, but despite that ended up being fired by Beijing.
"High popularity" has to do with being well-known, and as Beijing has infiltrated most of the media in Hong Kong, any information the Chinese government promotes or decides to block would be much more effective than the effort Tsang put into his election campaign.
There are three reasons for Tsang's popularity. First, with Hong Kongers still reminiscing about the old days under British colonial rule, Tsang's service under several British governors has boosted his popularity. Second, Tsang is a capable and particularly media-savvy politician. Third, the revival of Hong Kong's economy and the all-time high on the stock market.
Two years ago, Tsang proposed widening the taxation net and introducing a sales tax, but he has now shelved these two proposals and even agreed to reduce taxes in order to please the public.
This Hong Kong poll, however, was different from previous elections.
First, the pro-democracy faction in Hong Kong for the first time nominated its own candidate, joining the system in order to be able to oppose it and establishing a platform to air its views. However, participating in such a narrow election also triggered some controversy, since it implied tacit acceptance of the legitimacy of the system. Although the campaign created some bad blood, the competition helped keep Hong Kongers alert to the fact that this was not a democratic election.
Second, the pro-Beijing faction was compelled to learn how democracy works. Because Leong also participated in the election, Tsang was forced to answer questions on issues of concern to residents, such as when universal suffrage would be allowed. Tsang also emulated Taiwanese politicians and held campaign rallies, although they were only attended by a few thousand people.
Two televised debates between Tsang and Leong also obtained high viewer ratings and struck a chord with the public. It has been said that this would set a precedent for future elections, because it will no longer be enough to simply ingratiate oneself with Beijing.
Beijing accused Leong of pursuing Hong Kong independence, because he advocates amending the Basic Law and abolishing the small-circle election. Just as it likens Taiwan's pursuit of constitutional engineering to an attempt at seeking formal independence, Beijing was trying the same tactic to scare the people of Hong Kong.
When Leong was asked during one of the debates if he was pursuing Hong Kong independence, Leong said: "Anybody who believes that somebody is seeking Hong Kong independence, please clap your hands."
Leong thought nobody would clap and this would get him off the hook. Surprisingly, he was met with warm applause. Some wanted to embarrass him, but others really wanted to get rid of the "birdcage democracy" imposed on Hong Kong by China. Clearly, many Hong Kongers took their chance to declare their views on this issue.
Paul Lin is a political commentator based in Taipei.
Translated by Daniel Cheng
French firm DCI-DESCO in April won a bid to upgrade Taiwan’s Lafayette frigates, which has strained ties between China and France. In 1991, France sold Taiwan six Lafayette frigates and in 1992 sold it 60 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. To prevent arms sales between the nations, China negotiated an agreement with France and in 1994 in a joint statement, France promised that there would be no future arms sales to Taiwan. From China’s point of view, the DCI-DESCO deal constitutes a breach of the agreement, but the French stance is that it is not selling Taiwan new weapons, but instead providing a
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in her inaugural address on May 20 firmly said: “We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo.” The Chinese government was not too happy, and later that day, an opinion piece on the Web site of China’s state broadcaster China Central Television said: “While Tsai’s first inaugural address four years ago was read by Beijing as an ‘unfinished answer sheet,’ the one she presented this time was even more below-par.” Speaking to the China Review News Agency, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies vice president
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc worldwide. Despite countries being under pressure economically and from the novel coronavirus, China’s National People’s Congress last month passed national security legislation for Hong Kong, a decision that has shocked the world. Let there be no doubt: This move is the beginning of the end of China’s plans for “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Proposed amendments to extradition laws last year ignited massive protests in Hong Kong, with millions of participants, shocking the world and making confrontation between government forces and those who opposed the change a permanent part of Hong
Protecting domestic workers Ms Heidi Chang’s (張姮燕) article (“Employers need protections too,” May 24, page 6) made the case that “migrant workers’” rights had improved in Taiwan, but employers’ rights had not, going so far as to complain that all employers are treated equally under the law — as though this was not how the law was supposed to work. The truth is that the rights of foreign blue-collar workers have still not caught up with the rights their employers have always enjoyed. This segment of the foreign community in Taiwan is more likely than other groups to encounter abuse. Recently, a care