Taiwanese academics and Hong Kong students find it hard to agree with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), who said yesterday on the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover to China that the “one country, two systems (一國兩制)” design was “the best solution.”
“Are Hong Kong people happy with the arrangement after 15 years? It appears the answer is negative,” said Lin Wen-cheng (林文程), a professor at National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung. “While Hong Kong is a designated Special Administrative Region, its people know very well that Beijing is the boss and calls all the shots. People have no say in direct elections or over the influx of Chinese citizens.”
Lin observed that Hong Kongers’ attitudes toward China and Taiwan have changed drastically since the handover.
Hong Kongers used to be proud of their advanced economic and educational development, he said, adding that now Hong Kongers “feel inferior to Beijing and envy the democratic system Taiwanese enjoy.”
Lin warned that China has been using similar strategies to incorporate Taiwan with its “invisible influence,” such as economic measures and promotion of Zhonghua culture (中華文化).
In the short term, Beijing might be upset with Taiwanese people’s increasing support for independence, he said.
“However, its united front effort may be able to turn things around in the long term, which is a serious concern for us,” he added.
Political analyst Paul Lin (林保華), who lived in Hong Kong between 1976 and 1997, expressed similar concerns, saying Zhonghua culture is dangerous because of its lack of the concepts of freedom, law and democracy.
With the example of Hong Kong, he warned Taiwanese people against holding any delusion about “Chinese democracy” and lowering their guard to Beijing.
Public opinion polls showed that Hong Kongers under the age of 29 expressed the least support and had the most complaints about the handover because “it was not their decision.”
The Hong Kong case has taught us a lesson that we should make responsible decisions for future generations, Lin said.
Young Hong Kongers showed frustration in their observations about what had happened in the former British colony during the past decade.
“Beijing promised the system in Hong Kong would remain unchanged for 50 years, but this has not been the case,” Jessie Tam, who graduated from National Taiwan University’s graduate school last month, said.
While most young Hong Kongers pay little attention to politics, they did see some uncomfortable changes in the education system and social order, she said, adding that the influx of pregnant and job-seeking Chinese had caused serious resource distribution problems in Hong Kong.
The capital flow from China may have helped Hong Kong’s economy and employment, but it also created fierce competition with streams of job-seeking Chinese, Tam added.
A Hong Kong tourist in Taiwan, who gave her first name as Helen, said that increasing housing prices and stagnant wages are among the most common complaints of Hong Kongers who were born after 1980.
Hong Kong-based Angle Woo expressed concern about the worsening situation for freedom of speech, the wealth gap, increasing housing prices and stagnant wages, saying that young people “can’t see where their future lies” because of the Hong Kong government’s lack of vision.