‘Two countries, one system’ is here

By Tzou Jiing-wen 鄒景雯  / 

Tue, May 28, 2019 - Page 8

“One country, two systems” is on everyone’s lips these days, but there is another, even more frightening, possibility that no one has pointed to: “Two countries, one system.” Why is that more frightening? Because the first one has not happened yet, but the second one is in progress — it is an immediate danger, so it is more frightening.

What is “two countries, one system”? One country is Taiwan, the other is China — this is obvious. In the two countries, there are two governments, the Republic of China (ROC) government and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government.

There should be two systems, one in each country. Because the two are at opposite ends of the political spectrum — one is a democracy, the other a despotic regime — they have adopted completely different systems.

If the system of one of the countries seeps in to the other, and is in clear conflict with the other country’s interests — perhaps some of them, perhaps all — but many of that country’s citizens do not feel that there is any conflict, complying with that system and ignoring the exhortations of their own government, surely that amounts to “two countries, one system.”

If a democracy was the dominant country, that would create a beacon effect.

As US Vice President Mike Pence put it at the Hudson Institute last year: “Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people.”

Another expression of that effect is Chiang Ching-kuo’s (蔣經國) policy that China should be unified under the three principles of the people.

This is probably something that all Taiwanese, regardless of party affiliation, would look on as natural and not in the least bit frightening.

However, if the dominant country was an authoritarian regime like the PRC, that would mean that the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) plans for Taiwan were effective and the ROC government would be helpless and unable to influence developments.

Regardless of the extent of the PRC’s influence, surely most Taiwanese would disagree with such a situation, and perhaps even slam the table in anger and demand that those guilty be held responsible.

An increasing number of people are frustrated by recent incidents that clearly fall under the second scenario.

One of them is that the National Police Administration has found many online political statements that threaten the physical safety of others and provoke hate and confrontation.

Clearly breaking the law, these statements were shown to have originated from China’s Internet army. So what will Taiwanese do?

On May 10, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee Chairman Wang Yang (汪洋) lectured 85 Taiwanese media workers, and on May 19, many Taiwanese media outlets ignored all warnings and traveled to Guangzhou to listen to Huang Kunming (黃坤明), head of the CCP’s propaganda department, when he promoted Beijing’s Greater Bay Area project.

Whether the absurd statement that it is the media’s responsibility to promote cross-strait unification or the demand that Taiwanese media strive to bring about “one country, two systems,” the intentional acts that got Taiwanese media outlets to attend the events were offensive to the Taiwanese public. However, apart from its rule-by-slogan approach, what does the government do?

Having to make this kind of criticism is frustrating, but looking back, politicians have made a huge number of statements in relation to these events.

In the end, what has changed? Empty words do not have much effect, so the nation is facing a crisis of government.

As Chinese forces are moving in fast and unhindered, the introduction of the much-feared “two countries, one system” is taking place before people’s eyes.

It is far from sufficient for the government to merely describe what is going on and explain the causes. It must come up with a concrete solution or lose all power.

Why do Taiwanese media outlets ignore public complaints and fall over each other to attend events that are more about China’s “united front” tactics than news reporting?

One possible explanation is that the overall benefits offered to these outlets and their owners by China far outweigh any profit they can make in the Taiwanese market, and that is why they voluntarily introduce China’s designs on Taiwan.

A capable government would not lack the necessary policy tools to effectively address this problem, so why is the government talking instead of taking action?

If the government does nothing to address the deteriorating “two countries, one system” situation, why bother opposing “one country, two systems”? That is a serious thing to say, but does that mean that it is wrong?

Tzou Jiing-wen is editor-in-chief of the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper).

Translated by Perry Svensson