The Funnel and the Trumpet:
Ten Years after the Return of Hong Kong, 20 years after Martial Law, 30 years after the Cultural Revolution
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 27, 2007
This is the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's retrocession, the 20th anniversary of the lifting of martial law on Taiwan, and the 30th anniversary, more or less, of the end of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Taiwan's political path following the lifting of martial law resembles a funnel. The broad horizons opened up by the lifting of martial law represent the large end of the funnel, Taiwan's every narrowing horizons represent the small end of the funnel. By contrast, the political path followed by the mainland and Hong Kong regions, 30 years after the end of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and 10 years after Hong Kong's retrocession, resembles a trumpet. From the small end with mouthpiece, their horizons have steadily broadened as they advanced confidently toward the ever wider bell.
Of course, the mainland and Taiwan regions of China have many areas in which they cannot be compared. The biggest difference is that the Taiwan region has established a procedural framework for democracy. It has surpassed Hong Kong in directly electing its president. It has surpassed the mainland in ways too numerous to be cited individually, such as multiparty politics, direct elections at all levels, and a free media.
But Taiwan qua Taiwan, 20 years after the lifting of martial law, truly has been marching into the small end of a funnel. Martial Law and the Period of Mobilization for the Suppression of Communist Rebellion were rescinded 20 years ago. Politically and economically, the Taiwan region found itself at a watershed moment, reborn into a new world of limitless possibilities. Who knew it would soon fall victim to Lee Teng-hui's relentless attempts to undermine the constitution and practice "black gold" (cronyist) politics? Furthermore the direct election of the president required only a plurality, enabling the Democratic Progressive Party and Chen Shui-bian to seize power, and by means of "two bullets" obtain an illegal second term, during which time divisions arose over national identity, chaos undermined constitutional rule, the judiciary became a rubber stamp, the economy fell into depression, corruption became the norm, and the quality of life declined. Instead of progressing, Taiwan began regressing in every way, sliding toward the bottom of the funnel. Democracy and constitutionalism have become nothing more than tools with which Chen Shui-bian can hijack the nation and safeguard his kleptocracy.
Twenty years after the lifting of martial law, the core value of Taiwan's ruling regime has become: How to safeguard Chen Shui-bian's corruption, and how to work with Chen Shui-bian to continue deceiving oneself and others about Taiwan independence. Is this why we lifted 20 years of martial law? Is this to be its crowning achievement?
Do not compare the mainland with Taiwan, you say? Well then let's discuss the mainland qua mainland. Let's look at the changes 30 years after the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, at
Deng Xiaoping's "Black Cat, White Cat" thesis, at his declaration that "Only economic development is a hard truth," and at his call to "Let some people get rich first." His logic is incontrovertible, and the benefits are incalculable. Thirty years ago, if a farmer's wife sold two eggs on the street, she risked vilification as a "capitalist-roader." Thirty years later, the mainland has become the industrial workshop of the world. A conformist ant hill in which everyone wore blue Lenin jackets, has become a prosperous consumer society. Yes, problems still plague the mainland. The democratization of its political system lags behind others'. But China qua China, 30 years after the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, truly does suggest the ever widening bell of a trumpet.
Looking at Hong Kong qua Hong Kong, the ten year trend is also remarkably trumpet like. Ten years ago, Hong Kong was panic-stricken. The bottom had dropped out of the real estate and stock markets. Today it is booming. Its global economic and trade roles are on the rise. Its virtues prior to retrocession, clean and transparent government, have been preserved. Hong Kongers continue to push for the direct election of governors and an upgrade of the region's status. Hong Kong's retrocession to China was a thorny problem. But Deng Xiaoping's formula "one country, two systems" has allowed the mainland and Hong Kong to advance step by step toward the broad end of the trumpet over the past ten years. A single phrase has shrugged off ideology. A simple formula has allowed a nation to extricate itself from a dead end. (At this point we must add that we do not advocate "one country, two systems" for Taiwan.)
Lee Teng-hui was the first president following the lifting of martial law. Chen Shui-bian was the first president following regime change. Both stood at historic watersheds, full of possibilty. But they both stooped to racist demagoguery and political intrigue, and took Taiwan down the path to constitutional ruin, political corruption, and economic decline. By contrast, Deng Xiaoping was the first leader following Mao Zedong. He rescued a mainland on the verge of disintegration, and set it back on the path toward national greatness. It is not easy to draw comparisons between Lee, Chen, and Deng. But if we simply compare their starting points and end points, we can see that Deng Xiaoping went from narrow to wide. He was dealt a losing hand, but parlayed it into a fortune. Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian meanwhile, went from wide to narrow. They were dealt winning hands, yet frittered away the family fortune.
What is the reason behind the rise of the mainland and the decline of Taiwan over the past 20 years? Put simply, it is because they had Deng Xiaoping, while we had Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian.
Original Chinese below:
2007.06.27 04:10 am