Mon, Jun 17, 2019 - Page 6 News List

A plot to gut Hong Kong could be in play

By Chen Chih-ko 陳止戈

Totalitarian dictatorships rely on two main tricks: eliminating people by killing them; and erasing household registrations and seizing property and assets. Chinese emperors throughout history have excelled at these tricks. Confiscating a high-ranking official’s assets yields many years’ worth of imperial wealth.

One well-known example is emperor Jiaqing (嘉慶) of the Qing Dynasty, who contrived the downfall of courtier Heshen (和珅), thereby enriching the throne.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has learned these tricks only too well. The violent clashes over Hong Kong’s extradition law are perhaps but a prelude to a bigger plot to gut Hong Kong.

“Emptying the cage for new birds” was Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee Chairman Wang Yang’s (汪洋) slogan when he ran Guangdong Province.

Ostensibly, the policy aimed to balance regional development and encourage businesses on the southeastern coast to turn to developing the northwest of the province. The prime land and factory locations made vacant by “emptying the cage” became money-spinners for the CCP, providing an unlimited budget to maintain stability.

China’s plan for the Greater Bay Area tightly penned in Hong Kong, and now Beijing is playing its trump card, using the proposed extradition law as an excuse to force rich Hong Kongers to move away. Once the cage is empty, it will be filled with corrupt, money-laundering officials and be used to feed the privileged.

Apart from stabbing Hong Kongers — and Taiwanese — in the back, the most terrible aspect of the extradition law is that it can be used to confiscate a person’s property and assets. No wonder Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau’s (劉鑾雄) first thought was to leave Hong Kong.

Many people think China fears a possible economic slump in Hong Kong, while others plan to emigrate.

This might be exactly what China wants: Since the 1997 handover, China has strategically allowed 150 Chinese per day to immigrate to the territory. Today, 1.5 million Chinese have been mixed into the Hong Kong population, which now stands at more than 7 million, squeezed like sardines into a tiny place, using up public facilities, medical and educational resources.

When even breathing is difficult for the young generation, how can there be any hope for human rights?

With tiny Hong Kong so close to huge China, any attempt to defend against these developments by referring to the “one country, two systems” fig leaf is futile.

Taiwan, the next target, should make an all-out effort to support Hong Kong as it too could share the same future, but politicians like Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) are afraid to speak up.

With more than 1,000 US businesses and 85,000 Americans in Hong Kong, the fall of the territory would certainly harm the US’ interests. Perhaps US President Donald Trump is their last hope.

When the US-China trade dispute was at its most intense, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) went to Russia to be comforted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, hoping to form an alliance with him.

Seeing Xi and Putin sharpening their axes, Trump threatened to “immediately” impose more tariffs unless Xi attended the G20 summit. Giving rogues a taste of their own medicine is not necessarily a bad idea.

Taiwan’s risk exposure to Hong Kong in the financial sector amounts to NT$1 trillion (US$31.7 billion). Has everyone made adequate preparations before the storm?

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