Closer cooperation between anti-China activists in Hong Kong and Taiwan is causing “irritation, suspicion and perhaps a bit of paranoia” in Beijing, an article in Foreign Policy magazine’s online edition says.
Pro-democracy activists in both places have concluded only recently that they are facing similar threats from China, says the article posted on Tuesday by Grace Tsoi, a Hong Kong journalist now based in Taipei.
“Hong Kong offers a sobering lesson for Taiwan on the potential dangers of further integration with China,” Tsoi writes.
Since Hong Kong was returned from British rule to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, Beijing has asserted informal control through “quiet contacts” with legislators, government administrators and business leaders, she says.
Some Hong Kong business magnates and their children have been appointed members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference — “an honorary title without real political power, but nevertheless one that smoothes business transactions on the mainland,” she writes.
The Chinese Communist Party has successfully leveraged economic ties with both Hong Kong and Taiwan, but as the “shadow of Beijing grows” more people are “turning their heads, and hearts, away from the mainland,” Tsoi writes.
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology associate professor Sing Ming (成名) is quoted in the article as saying: “As Hong Kong faces increased suppression, it can remind Taiwanese to raise their guard. The growing distance between China and the Taiwanese, in turn, increases the bargaining power of Hong Kong.”
Cooperation between independence movements in Taiwan and Hong Kong could encourage separatists across China to follow suit, “thus threatening to turn the party’s worst nightmare — China’s disintegration — into reality,” Tsoi says.
The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reported that China was expected to announce on Aug. 31 its decision on how Hong Kong’s leader will be elected.
“At issue is whether Beijing will let Hong Kong residents directly nominate candidates for the chief executive post or whether only pre-approved candidates will be allowed to run,” the newspaper said.
“So far, rhetoric from officials in both Beijing and Hong Kong suggests that Beijing will reject outright activists’ demands,” it added.
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