When it comes to “one country, two systems,” most people might think that it is exclusively for China’s special administrative regions such as Hong Kong and Macau, but the policy was initiated in the 1980s under Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), and it was originally designed for Taiwan.
Leaders of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have regarded the Taiwan issue as a core Chinese interest, and almost every leader has had their own ideas and statements about Taiwan.
During Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) rule, the strategy was to use the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to “liberate” Taiwan. Therefore, frequent military conflicts occurred in the Taiwan Strait from the 1940s to the 1960s, such as the Battle of Guningtou and the 823 Kinmen Artillery Battle.
However, the day right after the latter battle, the PRC released its “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan,” which basically requested that Taiwan join the fight against “American imperialism.” The statement indicated that Mao’s policy toward Taiwan had changed.
In the Deng era, the situation underwent a qualitative change.
Deng introduced “one country, two systems” along the basis of the “One Program and Four Compendiums” of former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai (周恩來).
From “liberating” Taiwan to peaceful unification, the policy for Taiwan has changed significantly from Mao until now.
Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民), the PRC’s fourth leader, made his “Eight Points” the main theme of his plan for Taiwan. The idea was to “keep fighting for the unification of the country” in the 1990s, emphasizing that under Beijing’s “one China” principle, all issues could be discussed.
His successor, Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), also had his own argument, “Hu’s Six Points,” which emphasized political mutual trust.
Along with the “one China” principle, another highlight was formally ending the state of hostility between the two sides, aiming to reach a peaceful agreement and build a framework for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.
Hu was renowned as the most “friendly” PRC leader regarding Taiwan policy, but the cornerstone remained “one country, two systems.”
Then there is Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平). In January, he said that “peaceful unification and ‘one country, two systems’ are the best ways to achieve national unification” in a ceremony commemorating the 40th anniversary of the “Message to Taiwan Compatriots.”
In short, it is still “one country, two systems,” but with insincere hypocrisy.
The “one country, two systems” policy has been implemented in Hong Kong for 22 years, but still is not a fit. The protests have lasted for three months; people are striving for their basic rights. The main of the five major requests by Hong Kong protesters is to practice “true universal suffrage.”
The original purpose of the Sino-British Joint Declaration was to maintain a capitalist system and lifestyle in Hong Kong. The second article of the Basic Law of Hong Kong also specifies that people in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region should enjoy a high degree of autonomy, administration, legislation, justice and final adjudication, but all these rights are fading away.
Less than halfway into the 50 years that Hong Kong was to remain semi-autonomous, the “one country, two systems” model is regarded as a “myth” by the PRC, and is collapsing day by day.
Certainly, there is no perfect system for Hong Kong at this point. However, when the PRC runs its “one country, two systems” propaganda, its ignorance and arrogance are the most objectionable and unacceptable attitude to people in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The situation and condition in Taiwan are more complex than in Hong Kong. People do not know why the PRC is so confident and insist that “one country, two systems” is the best solution for Taiwan.
The 70th anniversary of the foundation of the PRC would have been the best timing for Beijing to sell “one country, two systems,” but ironically, the protests in Hong Kong are continuing. Let us see how the PRC now plans to sell its “beautiful” “one country, two systems” model.
Pan Jia-hong is a postgraduate student researching Chinese Communist Party history and Chinese People’s Liberation Army military development.
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