Sun, Jul 06, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan a softer target for China

By Leung Man-to 梁文韜

A series of recent events in Hong Kong has attracted much attention from Taiwanese. The occupation of the lobby of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on June 6 was seen by many as being modeled on the occupation of Taiwan’s legislative chamber from March 18 to April 10. While the two events may not seem to be closely related, they reflect a deep truth, which is that Taiwanese and Hong Kongers distrust China and resent the rich and powerful.

The cross-strait service trade agreement is a very important tool for China in its strategy of annexing Taiwan by using state capital to nibble away at Taiwan’s economy, gaining control of financial and other key businesses and manipulating elections. In Hong Kong, the plan to build two new towns in the northeastern New Territories is the first step toward formally amalgamating Hong Kong and Shenzhen, which is part of a blueprint for annihilating Hong Kong.

By using the service trade agreement, negotiated behind close doors, to throw Taiwan’s front door wide open, the rich and powerful on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are sure to build an even closer relationship consisting of nepotistic capitalism, in the same way as has happened in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the widening gap between rich and poor and the falling real incomes for middle and lower-class people will follow the pattern set after Hong Kong and China signed the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement in 2003.

What Hong Kongers have seen in the planning process for the northeastern New Territories’ new development areas are backroom arrangements being made by government officials to benefit themselves and property dealers, while throwing farmers off their land. The great majority of the expropriated land would be provided for use by the rich and powerful from China and Hong Kong. What would arise in place of farmland would be yet more department stores for rich Chinese to do their shopping in, as well as a paradise for land speculation by Hong Kong’s wealthiest people.

As well as economic development, Hong Kong’s political development has struck an even more sensitive nerve among Taiwanese. In the past, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) still felt that maintaining the formula of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong could serve as a model for China’s future rule over Taiwan, and that it could persuade the public that this was an acceptable way of uniting with China.

Over the past few years, however, China has changed its strategy regarding Taiwan. Now it seeks to use the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement to expedite its aim of making Taiwan’s economy over-reliant on China, so that it becomes a mere appendage, and then to annex Taiwan step by step, rather than first deciding how to annex Taiwan politically, and then talking about economic cooperation. To put it simply, the “one country, two systems” policy, which most Taiwanese have always rejected, is no longer China’s preferred arrangement for achieving its aim of unification.

On June 10, the Chinese government released a white paper on Hong Kong that formally dismantles the “two systems” part of the “one country, two systems” formula. The changes in China’s strategy make it easy to understand why it made such a high-profile move ahead of an unofficial referendum about how Hong Kong’s chief executive should be selected.

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