One China, Three Systems?

What do Taiwanese people fear the most? Have a look at Hong Kong, and it would give you a fair idea. If the unthinkable was to happen at Taiwan was reintegrated into China, it would be under a 'One Country, Two Systems' model which has theorically been the Hong Kong approach since it returned to Chinese control in 1997. Slowly but surely, HK has seen creeping incursions into the freedom, democracy and market capitalism that was its life-blood prior to '97. More on life in HK when I get there tomorrow, but what's important for now is Taiwanese perceptions of how HK has coped.

If Taiwanese people are ever going to accept unification with China, they need to be assured that their most basic ways of life will be protected and could never accept regular interference from Beijing. The Chinese assure them that this is possible, and with a glint in their eye the Chinese Apparatchiks try and woo over the Taiwanese. C'mon, it really won't be that bad. The Taiwanese know better, though. They've seen how unrealistic China's promise is, and know that if they were to integrate they would soon become just another Chinese province, controlled by Beijing and lacking many of the freedoms they take for granted at the moment.

The issue has become particuarly acute these past couple of days. Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou was scheduled to speak in Hong Kong, but was denied a visa by the Hong Kong government. No reason was given by the HKers, and so speculation is rife in Taiwan that he was denied the visa because he recently spoke out against China's absurd Anti-Succession bill, which would compel any future Chinese government to take military action should Taiwan attempt to assert its independence. Why Taiwan is so interested in this little power struggle is not only because a Taiwanese public figure is at the centre of it, but because of the strong suggestion that Hong Kong took its orders from Beijing in rejecting Ma's application, despite having legal autonomy to accept or reject visa applications. If this is how China treats Hong Kong under its version of "One China, Two Systems", then how will it treat us? - that's the question that China and pro-unification Taiwanese will need to address. Not an easy one.

More on the whole issue in this piece from the Taipei Times.

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