Sat, Sep 21, 2019 - Page 8 News List

‘One country, two systems’ dead

By Liu Chin-tsai 柳金財

A wave of protests in the past three months against a proposed extradition bill has swept Hong Kong in what has become the largest anti-China protests since the 1997 handover to Beijing. The demonstrations have become increasingly intense, with demonstrators proclaiming the slogan “Reclaim Hong Kong, revolution of our times” and even demanding independence.

Despite Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) withdrawing the proposed Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019, and giving a measured response to some of the protesters’ demands, her administration has been unable to stem the wave of protests.

The rallies have lowered acceptance of the “one country, two systems” formula among Hong Kongers, and intensified and strengthened the Democratic Progressive Party government’s cross-strait policies.

The proposed bill has undermined Hong Kongers’ confidence in “one country, two systems,” as they question the impartiality of the Chinese judiciary.

A March opinion poll from the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Program showed that 55 percent of respondents did not trust the “one country, two systems” model, and that the younger the respondents, the greater their distrust in the Chinese government and this formula.

In a June opinion poll, that number rose to 67 percent, an increase of 12 percentage points. It also showed that 66 percent of respondents did not approve of extradition to the mainland to stand trial, and 60 percent did not believe that trials on the mainland are fair. It is clear that the Hong Kong government was not sufficiently prepared for the serious political consequences of the anti-extradition movement.

The high number of Hong Kongers not supporting the “one country, two systems” formula has triggered similar protests in Taiwan.

Between 2017 and this year, the Public Opinion Program conducted five surveys. In these polls, the number of people who thought that the “one country, two systems” is not applicable to Taiwan first dropped, and then increased — from 54 percent to 53 percent and 50 percent, before reversing up to 59 percent and then 63 percent. Following the outbreak of the anti-extradition protests, “one country, two systems” serves even less as an example to Taiwan.

An opinion poll conducted by the Mainland Affairs Council in January showed that 75.4 percent of respondents did not approve of the formula. Following the outbreak of the anti-extradition protests, this number has increased to 88.7 percent. It is clear that the Taiwanese public’s trust in the Chinese government is dropping as the proportion of Taiwanese who do not approve of “one country, two systems” reaches new highs.

Finally, the anti-extradition protests have reinforced the Taiwanese public’s support for President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) tough cross-strait policy. The January poll showed that 87.8 percent opposed the Chinese government’s refusal to abandon the use of military force against Taiwan; that 88.4 percent did not agree with China’s diplomatic suppression of Taiwan; and that 85.9 percent opposed attempts to coopt and divide Taiwanese society.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) public backing of the “one country, two systems” model for Taiwan and the protests in Hong Kong have reinforced the Taiwanese public’s lack of trust in this formula, so much so that opposition to it has almost become a Taiwanese “consensus.” Moreover, support for Tsai has increased by 10 percentage points.

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