Thu, Jul 08, 2004 - Page 3 News List

`One country, two systems' a failure: experts


The recent march for democracy in Hong Kong earlier this month highlights the inadequacies of applying China's "one country, two systems" formula in Taiwan, according to experts on cross-strait relations yesterday at a forum organized by the Friends of Hong Kong and Macau Association.

"It is no longer possible to push for the `one country, two systems' model in Taiwan using Hong Kong's example anymore. Ironically, China is now attempting to block Hong Kong's democratization by likening it to the movement for Taiwan's independence," said Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), former vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council.

According to the march's organizers, as many as 530,000 people turned out to participate in a march for democracy in Hong Kong on July 1, the seventh anniversary of the former British colony's return to China. Hong Kong police estimated the size of the crowd to be around 200,000. The participants demanded direct elections and expressed dissatisfaction with China's hand-picked leader, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa (董建華). The march followed a similar demonstration, staged on the same day one year ago.

"Since Hong Kong's July 1 protest last year, and the referendum and presidential elections in Taiwan, China has begun to use Taiwan to suppress Hong Kong by portraying Taiwan's democratization as societal division and turmoil," said Chang Wu-yen (張五岳), a professor at the Institute of China Studies in Tamkang University and secretary-general of the Friends of Hong Kong and Macau Association.

Despite the effort to "demonize democracy in Taiwan," as the lecturers referred to Beijing's tactics, Chang said that the only way to overcome challenges to democratization is through increased efforts to secure democracy.

Chao Chien-min (趙建民), a political science professor at National Chengchi University further elaborated on the topic, explaining the need for Taiwan's democracy to increase in institutional complexity.

"What Taiwan needs now is to seek greater levels of complexity. For example, we've never before had an assassination attempt on the president before an election. Now we have to implement judicial investigations and other mechanisms. This is all part of a process to erect democratic institutions," Chao said.

Chao said the different levels of institutional complexity are an indication of democratic consolidation.

"Hong Kong is also working on erecting institutions. But while Taiwan seeks institutional complexity in democracy, Hong Kong seeks the institution of democracy itself. It is the same with China, but at a much lower level. China is going from having no laws to having laws," Chao said.

Chen also explained the function of institutional complexity, pointing to the need to resolve all situations without resorting to extra-legal or extra-institutional mechanisms.

"It is important that the government look for a systemic solution to every problem. The establishment of a special committee to investigate the March 19 shooting incident is an example of the effort to resolve problems using institutional mechanisms," Chen said.

"To resolve the election controversies using institutional mechanisms despite a polarized society -- that is the real significance of the presidential election," Chen added.

Despite resistance from Beijing however, Chen yesterday likened democratization to a rock rolling down a hill, pointing to the gathering momentum and inevitability of the process.

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