Thu, Oct 10, 2019 - Page 8 News List

HK, Taiwan stand up as allies in US

By Yang Kuang-shun 楊光舜

On Sept. 17, a group of Hong Kong activists gathered in front of the United Methodist Building in Washington to celebrate the establishment of the Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC).

The council’s aim is to be “a consistent voice in Washington, pushing the US to uphold its commitment to Hong Kong’s basic freedoms and autonomy, and to preserve the US’ own political and economic interests in Hong Kong.”

Most of the activists, including Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) and Denise Ho (何韻詩), had just come from a historic hearing of the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China, cochaired by US Representative Jim McGovern and US Senator Marco Rubio.

They testified about the intensifying clashes between protesters and the administration in Hong Kong. They also urged Congress to pass the proposed Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act as a US countermeasure to deter a crackdown by the Chinese government.

Speaking at the council’s launch, Wong said: “Taiwanese Americans established FAPA to fight for a better future. How about we Hongkongers,” referring to the the Formosan Association for Public Affairs.

Today, FAPA is a grassroots organization with about 3,000 members aiming to promote US-Taiwan relations.

However, at its inception in 1982, FAPA was composed of only a few Taiwanese Americans. Just like these Hong Kong activists, the founding members of FAPA were among the first generation of Taiwanese who identify with the homeland rather than China.

FAPA’s first lobbying triumph was to establish a separate immigration quota for Taiwanese immigrants to the US, rather than sharing it with immigrants from China.

FAPA’s mission is not limited to changing US policy to make US Democratic presidential aspirant Andrew Yang (楊安澤), US Representative Ted Lieu (劉雲平) and actress Constance Wu (吳恬敏) identify themselves as “Taiwanese Americans” rather than “Chinese Americans.”

Just like Hong Kongers today, Taiwanese were under authoritarian rule with little freedom of speech, assembly and political participation. For 38 years under martial law rule, dissidents in Taiwan were vulnerable to arrest, torture or even execution for pursuing democracy.

Overseas Taiwanese, including FAPA president Mike Kuo (郭正光), were spied on by secret agents from Taiwan and blacklisted for advocating the democratization of Taiwan.

After years of lobbying at the local level and on Capitol Hill, FAPA’s advocacy resulted in legislation by US lawmakers like former senators Ted Kennedy and Claiborne Pell and former representatives Stephen Solarz and Jim Leach that contributed to the lifting of martial law in Taiwan in 1987.

Hong Kongers have a slogan for Taiwan: “Today’s Hong Kong is tomorrow’s Taiwan.” It implies that Taiwan might be ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) like today’s Hong Kong if a pro-Beijing administration should be elected.

One might also say that from the perspective of Taiwanese history, “Today’s Hong Kong is yesterday’s Taiwan.” And FAPA is the offspring of this history.

One day before the congressional hearing on Hong Kong, about 80 FAPA members from across the US stood on the steps of the US Capitol for a group photograph. For decades, it has been an annual routine for FAPA members around this time of year to visit the offices of members of Congress to advocate for issues critical to Taiwan’s interests.

This story has been viewed 6804 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top