Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) has created a stir in Taiwan and among democracy advocates in Hong Kong with his meetings with Beijing’s top officials in Hong Kong and Macau, and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Liu Jieyi (劉結一) yesterday in the Chinese city of Shenzhen.
After being called a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) proxy who endorses Beijing’s “one country, two systems” framework for Taiwan, Han said the criticisms were “twisted and meaningless comments,” adding that he was merely making friends and promoting bilateral trade and economic ties.
No one is against making new friends or objecting to Han’s portrayal of his trip as being to secure orders for the Kaohsiung’s agricultural and fishery products.
However, the CCP’s involvment makes it a different story.
In meeting with Wang Zhimin (王志民), director of the Chinese Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, on Friday and with Fu Ziying (傅自應), director of the liaison office in the Macau Special Administrative Region, the following day, Han has — deliberately or unwittingly — broken his campaign promise of focusing on “economy 100 percent, politics 0 percent.”
The two liaison offices have nothing to do with Han’s stated agenda of developing trade and economics, as they fall under the respective jurisdictions of the Hong Kong and Macau governments. They are the resident organs of the Chinese government in the territories in charge of managing the “one country, two systems” framework in each.
The Hong Kong office, for example, has often been accused of interfering with Hong Kong’s autonomy and engaging in clandestine, or even open, operations promoting pro-Beijing “united front” activities and opinions, and manipulating elections to suppress pro-democracy parties.
Any politicians who remain naive about China must clear their heads and keep in mind that it has on numerous occasions made clear that its objective is to annex Taiwan using a step-by-step unification strategy, or even military force, which Beijing has not renounced. A genuine friendship has to be reciprocal, with both sides harboring good will and hiding no malicious agenda.
So while Han might — as he claimed — just want to make new friends and promote bilateral economic ties, sincerity is simply not the case with the CCP. As recently as January, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) was still speaking of exploring the “one country, two systems” framework for Taiwan, which in Beijing’s terms means wiping out the Republic of China (ROC).
Granting Han the benefit of the doubt that all he had in mind was meeting people and extending good will, and that he for a moment let down his guard against Beijing’s sneaky schemes: All he has to do is humbly admit that he made a mistake. If Han is wise enough to apologize and repair the damage, he would garner more credibility among Taiwanese. After all, there is power in properly admitting a mistake.
However, if it is the case that Han is singing Beijing’s tune to project a perception internationally that the “one country, two systems” framework could be applied to Taiwan, then he ought to be reminded that most Taiwanese oppose him, as a Cross-Strait Policy Association poll following’s Xi’s remarks in January showed, with 80.9 percent rejecting the formula.
Han won the mayoral race in November last year with the campaign slogan of “economy 100 percent, politics 0 percent.” Hopefully it will not turn out to be “economy 100 percent, 0 percent upholding the ROC’s dignity.”
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