The unrest in Hong Kong over a proposed bill to allow the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong to extradite people to mainland China is for all intents and purposes a sinister and subversive move, albeit ill-thought through by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The overt unpopularity of the bill can be observed in the mass demonstrations by the people of Hong Kong; their persistent recalcitrance in that process; and their astute and continuing objections to the bill.
At the moment there is no sign of let-up. The question that all of the aforementioned raises is whether Taiwan will benefit from the hard line the protesters have taken toward the CCP or will it be affected in a negative way?
A crossover analysis can be made: Taiwan and Hong Kong share a culture and language base, as well as other normative interactions of their societies, although what is more important here is the political base that is being held onto by Hong Kong and Taiwan: liberal democracy as a form of government.
Much of the unrest in Hong Kong has been about how the agreed basis of government — prior to the 1997 handover, in the 1984 settlement between the UK and China — has been slowly, but surely chipped away at, and the CPP’s persistent meddling in Hong Kong.
One could argue that it has increased under the tutelage of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) as he indubitably wants to place pressure on any region of China that is deemed recalcitrant and a threat to his (aimed for) aggrandizement of being an admired ruler — perhaps in conjunction with Mao Zedong (毛澤東).
Where does this place Taiwan? First and foremost the push toward intruding into Hong Kong by the CCP signals an intent to pacify the mainland region and this would be done by removing any “troublemakers.”
The removal of troublemakers also has within it a complete and utter disrespect for the signed agreement of (essentially) British-style rule applying until 2047, so one is able to take from this one understanding: Any agreement that China commits to is and remains valid only while the CCP agrees to its implementation.
The CCP no longer agrees with the inherent British-style legal rights a detainee has and therefore seeks to change these core components.
The CCP’s needs are greater than that of the agreed-to system. This sets a dangerous precedent should Taiwanese, through the democratic process inherent within their system of government, seek to go down the path of negotiating some sort of agreement with China about unification.
However, the action against the protesters beyond any sort of government and governance does signal a panic within the CCP that the desire to come to terms with Hong Kong is fraught, and is one that defies a simple misunderstanding of heritage.
The simple fact is that the people of Hong Kong have, as a core component of their culture, an attachment to the UK. Whether this is a good or bad thing is moot and need not be debated here as cultural interactions are multi-faceted and the byproduct of numerous interactions between peoples.
The CCP seems incapable or unwilling to grasp this factor and is beholden to a harmonious China being in place by 2049.
The biggest danger for Taiwan is the lack of commentary from Western governments about the disturbances in Hong Kong. While there has been an acknowledgement of the 2047 complete takeover date in many press releases, it remains just that: an acknowledgement.
There appears to be a distinct lack of intestinal fortitude on the part of powerful Western governments to challenge Beijing’s actions and mention that it is breaking a legal agreement that was entered willingly into.
This smacks of an obsequious and sycophantic approach to China by the West and this should not be lost on Taiwan.
One can assume by the lack of action on the part of the West — and Japan — that mercantilism and their economies in general are more important than the way in which good government and governance is pursued.
The lack of commentary on the way China is acting reflects the West’s ambivalence toward the East, and this must be the biggest concern for Taiwan as China continues to assert its aim in the region.
Strobe Driver has a doctorate in war studies and is an adjunct researcher at Federation University Australia. The views expressed here are his own.
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