The Chinese Communist Party again showed that it cannot be trusted by attempting to crack down on pro-democracy demonstrators occupying streets in central Hong Kong, as it brutally rejected their call for true universal suffrage in direct elections for the special administrative region’s next chief executive.
Since China’s takeover of Hong Kong in 1997, pro-democracy advocates in the territory have been campaigning for full suffrage and direct elections for their chief executive. Thus far the chief executive has been elected indirectly by the Legislative Council. Although Beijing promised universal suffrage in 2017, it now insists that all candidates must be approved by a nominating committee, leading many Hong Kong residents to call Beijing’s proposed election format “inauthentic,” since voters will only be allowed to choose from candidates approved by the Chinese government.
Moreover, in June, Beijing released a “white paper” on its “one country, two systems” framework that stressed that Hong Kong will only enjoy as much autonomy as the Chinese government grants it.
Discontent with Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong’s politics led to strikes by tens of thousands of university students in the territory last week, as well as sparking the ongoing occupation of streets and paralysis of Central district.
Although Hong Kongers’ demands for an authentic and free election for the territory’s top administrative official would be deemed reasonable in any democracy, the Hong Kong and Beijing governments have responded to them with crackdowns by police officers using pepper spray, tear gas and violence, resulting in the injury and illegal detention of protesters.
Hong Kongers are only the latest victims of the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party regime.
Tibetans and Uighurs living under Chinese have long suffered from the repression of their religions, culture and freedom, despite the party’s promises to protect freedom of religion and the protection afforded to the cultures of China’s minority ethnic groups by the Chinese constitution, as well as by the 17-Point Peace Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet Beijing signed with the Tibetan authorities upon its invasion and occupation of Tibet.
Meanwhile, perhaps millions more Han Chinese are also falling victim to corruption, forced evictions and demolitions, and damage to the environment.
Over the past decade, Tibetans living in exile in Taiwan have warned of the dangers of Chinese rule, and now, Hong Kongers have joined their calls. At an event to support the Hong Kong demonstrators held at Liberty Square in Taipei, several tearful Hong Kong expatriates spoke about their suffering and warned Taiwanese not to trust Beijing. Unfortunately, government officials in Taipei do not seem to be alert to the situation in Hong Kong.
Minister of the Interior Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) dismissed the protests as Hong Kong’s business and, though voicing support for democracy in the territory, both President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) have reacted rather nonchalantly.
Such reactions may be appropriate if the chaos happens in a far away place that has nothing to do with Taiwan. However, government officials should realize that the dilemma is occurring in Hong Kong and has been created by Beijing, which has never given up its ambition to “retake” Taiwan.
More importantly, the “one country, two systems” framework — originally designed for Taiwan — is not working in Hong Kong.
It is time for a the government to be responsible and learn from the developments in Hong Kong, and reflect on its China-leaning policies to prevent Taiwan from being dragged into the same predicament.
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