Taiwan has paid too little attention to the civil movement in Hong Kong and could be the next in line to be absorbed by Beijing if the trend continues, politicians and political observers said at a panel discussion in Taipei yesterday.
Hong Kong, which was handed back to China by the UK in 1997, could serve as a perfect example for Taiwan in its efforts to defy Chinese political pressure and influence, said Wang Dan (王丹), a Chinese dissident who now teaches at National Tsinghua University in Hsinchu.
Wang was one of the guest speakers at a panel discussion on the theme of “Taiwan’s Hong Kong-ization,” which is also the theme of a book published by New Society for Taiwan, a think tank and co-organizer of the event.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康), the other co-organizer, moderated the discussion.
Taiwan has already been “Hong Kong-ized,” Wang said, because government agencies, institutions and media outlets have all learned to “self-discipline” themselves in what can and cannot be done in much the same fashion as their Hong Kong counterparts prior to the 1997 handover.
Second, as with Hong Kong, China has used its economic power to influence Taiwanese politics, Wang said.
Wang agreed with the idea of advocating a “cross-strait alliance of civil movements” between people in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, saying that it could be the only effective way to stop Taiwan from “Hong Kong-ization.”
Wang predicted that the increasing political participation of those born after 1990 would play a critical role in Hong Kong’s civil movement in the future because this young generation is now “even more anti-communist than their parents and more active in speaking their minds and participating in politics.”
Emily Lau (劉慧卿), a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong and vice president of the Hong Kong Democratic Party, said via video teleconference that China had not won the hearts of people in Hong Kong even 15 years after the handover.
The “one country, two systems” mechanism was originally designed by Beijing for Taiwan, but it was implemented in Hong Kong first, Lau said, adding that the results and process of the implementation could serve as a reference for Taiwan.
Chang Tieh-chih (張鐵志), a political commentator, said China has been getting impatient with the civil movement in Hong Kong in recent years, but everything it did “pushed Hong Kong people further from China.”
Hong Kong paid little attention to Taiwan in the past, former DPP legislator Lin Chuo-shui (林濁水) said, even though both have walked similar historical paths — both were ceded by China after wars and both advanced economically before China.
However, both sides appeared to “connect” to each other after the 1997 handover as people in Hong Kong looked to Taiwan as a political inspiration and model.
In a recent poll, Taiwan ranked as the favorite foreign nation among Hong Kong residents, he said, adding that “a democratic Taiwan out of China’s control would be a pillar for Hong Kong’s democratic movement.”