Democratic Paradox: Taiwan Independence Weakens, Hong Kong Independence Intensifies
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 12, 2013
Summary: People on
Taiwan and in Hong Kong alike want democracy and human rights on the
Mainland. Both criticize its absence. This means that Taiwan and Hong
Kong still feel a "flesh and blood" kinship with the Mainland. If
Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other regions of China ever perceive democracy
and human rights on the Mainland as "your internal affairs," and adopt a
"Why should I give a damn"" attitude, that will mark their total
disillusionment and disidentification with the Mainland.
Full text below:
Over the past several months, the political atmosphere on Taiwan and in Hong Kong has undergone subtle, diametrically opposed changes. On Taiwan, Taiwan independence sentiment has clearly diminished, even as concern for democracy and human rights on the Mainland has increased. In Hong Kong, the opposite is the case. In Hong Kong, doubts have arisen about whether democracy and human rights on the Mainland have any relevance for Hong Kong. Something akin to "Hong Kong independence" has taken root.
Superficially, Taiwan has taken the road previously taken by Hong Kong, even as Hong Kong has taken the road previously taken by Taiwan. But the two phenomenon share something in common. Neither is optimistic about the prospect of democratization on Mainland China. Taiwan and Hong Kong both have grave concerns. Their concerns have become a problem for Beijing.
Green Camp spokesman Yao Jen-tuo declared, "Taiwan independence no longer has any market." Su Tseng-chang admonished the DPP, "Do not turn back the clock in order to promote Taiwan independence." Frank Hsieh spoke of "common roots, same language" and "one China, different constitutional interpretations." Hsu Hsin-liang spoke of "boldly championing one China." All these are evidence that Taiwan independence sentiment has steadily diminished.
Taiwan independence advocates were once cocksure of themselves. The DPP's response to democracy and human rights on the Chinese mainland was to keep it at arms length. DPP members evinced a "well water has nothing to do with river water" mentality. They felt no "flesh and blood" identification with their Mainland compatriots. To them, the plight of the Mainland was "no skin off my ass." This mindset eventually spread to the general public on Taiwan. For example, Hong Kongers would gather in Victoria Park every June 4 to commemorate the Tiananmen Incident. But on Taiwan it was a non-event.
The DPP has begun debating whether to change its cross-Strait policy. It has spoken about "not turning back the clock in order to promote Taiwan independence." It is preparing to establish closer relations with Beijing. It has suddenly become concerned about democracy and human rights on the Chinese mainland. Chen Guangchen's visit to Taiwan was no coincidence. The DPP's playing of this "human rights card" was calculated. An even more obvious indicator is the "Resolution on Human Rights in the Taiwan Strait" advanced by younger generation Green Camp leaders. It adopts a "human rights vs. sovereign rights" strategy. It shows that the DPP has changed course. Taiwan independence sentiment is diminishing. Concern for democracy and human rights on the Chinese mainland is intensifying.
Hong Kong and Taiwan have taken opposite paths. The 1989 Tiananmen incident had a powerful impact on Hong Kong's 1997 retrocession to the Chinese nation. Few in Hong Kong objected to Hong Kong's "restoration to the mother country." But many were intensely concern about Beijing's treatment of democracy and human rights. Hong Kongers were alarmed and vigilant. This was apparent from their annual June 4 gatherings in Victoria Park.
But this year the situation changed. Some question the relevance of June 4th. They say "That is China's problem with democracy, not Hong Kong's." They say Hong Kong should stand on its own. They say Hong Kong should not provide Beijing with a pretext to intervene in "Hong Kong's internal affairs." This argument has not stopped others from meeting in Victoria Park. In response, these same people have challenged the protest movement's slogan "love of country, love of the people." They have argued that under one party rule, love of country equals love of the party. They want fellow protestors in Victoria Park to cease using such slogans. Hong Kong appears to be on the same road that Taiwan was on yesterday. Hong Kong is now questioning the relevance of June 4th. Some of the reasons for Taiwan's past indifference to democracy and human rights on the Chinese mainland are now surfacing in Hong Kong.
This "Hong Kong independence movement" thinking is not mainstream political thought in Hong Kong. But it has had a significant shock effect. Enlightened moderates are advocating universal suffrage. Radicals are waving the "Tibetan Flag." Some protestors are even shouting "Chinese colonialists get out!" Their cries recall Taiwan independence denunciations of the ROC as a "foreign regime." Some protestors are even shouting "Down with the Hong Kong regime!" Their cries recall "Down with the Mao Zhu gang!" slogans. Some CCP officials already see these developments in Hong Kong as signs of "Hong Kong independence." Hong Kong today seems to being going down the same road Taiwan went down yesterday.
Taipei's relationship with Beijing is different from Hong Kong's relationship with Beijing. Its status is different. Its circumstances are different. People on Taiwan realize Taiwan independence is impossible. They realize they cannot sever their relationship with the Mainland. They realize they must conduct exchanges. That is why they have reverted to debating democracy and human rights. Doing so enables them to establish a communications channel as well as a buffering mechanism. Hong Kong, by contrast, is already under Mainland Chinese jurisdiction. Hong Kongers have apparently concluded that begging Mainland China to democratize within the foreseeable future is pointless. They have resorted therefore to demanding separation. They have adopted a "river water has nothing to do with well water" posture to safeguard their freedom and democracy.
The relationship between Taiwan and Mainland China is about to enter "deep water." As a result, Taiwan expects greater democracy and human rights from Beijing. Hong Kong, on the other hand, is already in "deep water." As a result, it is demaning separation. It wants to return to "shallow water." Taiwan's situation is different from Hong Kong's. But both are concerned about Beijing's attitude toward democracy and human rights. This is Beijing's responsibility. This is also Beijing's shame.
The Republic of China and the Hong Kong SAR are different. But people on Taiwan and in Hong Kong alike want democracy and human rights on the Mainland. Both criticize its absence. This means that Taiwan and Hong Kong still feel a "flesh and blood" kinship with the Mainland. If Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other regions of China ever perceive democracy and human rights on the Mainland as "your internal affairs," and adopt a "Why should I give a damn"" attitude, that will mark their total disillusionment and disidentification with the Mainland.
Taiwan independence or Hong Kong independence mean that Beijing must pursue democratic constitutional rule. It must implement "one country, one good system." It has no alternative.
2013.07.12 04:08 am