Thu, Jul 03, 2003 - Page 3 News List

HK formula is a trap, Taiwan warned

LESSONS Demonstrations against Hong Kong's planned anti-subversion law show that freedom is in danger, but could also serve as an example of peaceful protest

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A democracy activist in Hong Kong says that Tuesday's demonstration against the authorities' planned anti-subversion law held a lesson for Taiwan: The "one country, two systems" formula doesn't work.

Alan Ho (何家誠), a 52-year-old Hong Kong resident, said that he took to the streets on Tuesday to voice his gripes with the region's authorities.

"We are completely fed up with the government," Ho said in a telephone interview. "The new law serves as China's attempt to implant its system in Hong Kong."

Ho was referring to a national security law that critics say will impose Beijing-style control over free speech and the media.

The law, expected to sail through the Hong Kong's Legislative Council next Wednesday, will ban subversion, treason, sedition and other crimes against the state.

A series of anti-subversion measures are expected to be enshrined as Article 23 of Hong Kong's Basic Law by the region's legislature next week.

The Basic Law was negotiated before the region's handover from Britain to China in 1997 and serves as the Special Administrative Region's mini-consititution.

Hong Kong officials insist that freedoms will not be compromised by the new measures and that Article 23 is in line with the national-security laws in other countries.

Ho disagreed: "China said it would give Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for 50 years, but why did it change its mind six years after Hong Kong's handover from Britain to China?"

China's "one country, two systems" formula for Hong Kong turned out to be a failure, as it is Beijing that has been pushing Hong Kong to enact the national security law, Ho said.

He warned Taiwan not to fall into the trap, because it's a formula that doesn't work.

Jason Yeh (葉嘉興), associate professor of finance at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said some of his Christian and Falung Gong colleagues have misgivings about the new law.

"Although they teach here in the business college, they are afraid that they will be forced to go underground or else they'll be faced with the charge of treason as a result of the new law," Yeh said in a telephone interview.

Yeh, a Hong Kong-based Taiwanese, said that Tuesday's demonstration, which drew some 500,000 people, showed that the residents of Hong Kong were mature enough to have their voices heard through peaceful means.

"Although 500,000 people took to the streets, meaning one out of 13 Hong Kong residents joined the protest, the process was peaceful and rational," Yeh observed.

"This shows that Hong Kong is a mature society where the expression of differing opinions on social issues can be done in rather rational ways," he said. "It's a lesson for Taiwan, where polarized opinions lie at the two extreme ends of the political spectrum."

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