Mon, Jul 11, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Why not learn from Hong Kong?

By Wang Dan 王丹

On June 29, the top story on the Liberty Times’ front page was a report on a survey of Hong Kongers’ satisfaction with Chinese rule 14 years on. I am not going to comment on the contents of the article other than to say that it is rare to see a Taiwanese mainstream media outlet pay earnest attention to the developments in Hong Kong.

For various reasons, the rising strength of China has been a cause of both enthusiasm and worry for the people of Taiwan.

It has also set off a variety of discussions and expressions of concern.

What I find most surprising, however, is that Taiwanese do not understand, nor do they seem to have any interest in understanding, the situation in Hong Kong.

In January, veteran Hong Kong democracy activist Szeto Wah (司徒華) passed away. The news shook Hong Kong, and even made it into the pages of the New York Times. Still, I wonder how many Taiwanese know who Wah was?

Taiwanese in general are currently paying a lot of attention to the fact that Taiwanese universities are opening up to students from China, and many media outlets are busy interviewing Chinese students.

However, there are also many exchange students from Hong Kong in Taiwan.

How many of these media outlets are interviewing those students, asking for their opinions on the “one country, two systems” policy, or asking them about the effects of an increasingly strong China on Hong Kong?

I find this Taiwanese neglect of and indifference to Hong Kong bizarre.

In my view, Hong Kong’s development over the past 20 years provides the best reference and the best indicators for Taiwan as it tries to address its concerns about China’s growing strength.

The general view is that the so-called “one country, two systems” policy was proposed by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) as a way of solving the Hong Kong issue. As far as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was concerned, however, the real target of this policy was Taiwan.

The proposition and implementation of the policy in Hong Kong was merely an experiment with a very simple goal: To practice for the takeover of Taiwan.

Maybe it could be said that the implementation of the “one country, two systems” policy in Hong Kong has been an utter failure and that China’s unification strategy has had the opposite effect of what was intended.

That, however, is not a reason to neglect Hong Kong’s development.

First, everything the CCP has done in Hong Kong over the past 20 years has in fact been an experiment in preparation for how to deal with Taiwan. This means that Hong Kong offers a ready-made blueprint as we try to understand what concrete measures the CCP will take when dealing with Taiwan once the two sides initiate political, or even unification, talks. What reasons could Taiwan possibly have for neglecting to study Hong Kong’s development and recent history?

Second, the “one country, two systems” policy may appear to be a failure, but looked at from another perspective, it has been successful — Hong Kong is gradually becoming more similar to the Chinese mainland, as press freedom is restricted through self-censorship and the rights of the judiciary become increasingly circumscribed.

The people of Hong Kong know better than anyone else how all these changes are taking place.

This raises the question of whether Taiwan should not be more active in inviting representatives of all walks of life from Hong Kong to give detailed accounts of their experiences to the Taiwanese.

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