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Taiwanese See in Hong Kong's Pro-Democracy Protests What a Future With China Might Be Like

The supporters from the Black Island Youth.' Photo by the Black Island Youth. CC BY-NC 2.0.

The supporters from the Black Island Youth.’ Photo by the Black Island Youth. CC BY-NC 2.0.

If Beijing had its way, the democratic island of Taiwan would be reunified with mainland China under the same political set-up known as “one country, two systems” that gives Hong Kong a certain amount of autonomy from the central government (or at least is supposed to). 

But as thousands continue to protest in Hong Kong for genuine democratic elections and are met with tear gas and pepper spray, some Taiwanese think the “one country, two systems” idea has failed and the autonomy “enjoyed” by Hong Kong is a sham. 

Taiwanese student activists expressed their support to Hong Kong students’ class boycott on 22 September 2014 in the hopes of raising awareness in Taiwan of Beijing's manipulation of Hong Kong's election reform.

In response to the violent clashes between the student protesters and the Hong Kong police on 27 September and the debut of a massive sit-in dubbed Occupy Central the following day, more than a thousand people gathered in the Freedom Square in Taiwan to express their solidarity with Hong Kong protesters.

Beijing will allow former British colony Hong Kong a direct vote for its next top leader, but requires candidates to receive majority support from a largely pro-Beijing nominating committee before being put on the ballot. Protesters argue that this election framework, presented by the Standing Committee of the National Congress of People Committee, goes against the universal suffrage that Hong Kong was promised.  

Black Island Youth, an activist group active in the Sunflower Movement in Taiwan explained why they support the protest in Hong Kong in their Facebook page:

黑色島國青年陣線過去一年來,在臺灣反對同樣罔顧人民聲音的中國國民黨,並抵抗其背後日益鮮明的「中國因素」。我們對於香港青年在香港抵抗中國共產黨的勇氣與努力非常敬佩。

The Black Island Youth has protested against the [pro-unification ruling party] Kuomintang, which keeps ignoring Taiwanese citizens’ voices, and has resisted the ‘China factor’, which has more and more influence over the Kuomintang. As a result, we highly respect the courage and effort of the young people in Hong Kong shown in your protest against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Beijing rejects Taiwan's independence and considers the island a wayward territory.

A Taiwanese blogger, shophist4ever, pointed out that the election framework imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing reflected the failure of “one country, two systems”:

其實中國政府可以不用作的這麼難看,畢竟一國兩制有示範給台灣看的目的存在。結果現在中國端出來的所謂「政改框架」,根本就是由北京來欽定特首的設計,真正看過民主國家普選制度的人,一定是無法接受的。

The Chinese government does not need to make things so ugly. The ‘one country, two systems’ in Hong Kong is also a demo for Taiwan. However, the so-called ‘electoral reform framework’ proposed by China's government is actually designed for a [Hong Kong] chief executive selected by Beijing. For a person who has seen a real election in a democratic country, they will not accept this proposal.

Kuo-Chang Huang, one of the leaders of the Sunflower Movement, which occupied Taiwan's legislative building for three weeks to protest a secretly negotiated trade deal with China, pointed out that the Chinese Communist Party's infiltration in Hong Kong has eroded the rule of law in the city and warned Taiwan not to follow in Hong Kong's footsteps:

如果你要看中共滲透一個社會的方式,你去看香港。他們已經到讓人難以理解的程度,本來香港不該容許這種事,以前英國殖民時,香港沒有民主,但有法治;但現在香港法治的實際實踐,會讓你覺得香港沒有民主,連法制也逐漸在流失當中。

If you want to observe how the CCP infiltrates a society, you should observe Hong Kong. Things have been changed to an extent that is difficult to be understood. Such things should not be tolerated in Hong Kong. When Hong Kong was governed by Britain, there was no democracy, but there was legal system. Now based on the practice of legal institutions in Hong Kong, you may feel that there is no democracy, and its legal system is degraded.

香港之前一國兩制、選特首、五十年不變的承諾,中國可以說翻臉就翻臉,他當然知道這樣翻臉有政治代價,你就是說話不算話的政權,自己作的承諾都可以公然毀棄,但他為何敢做?因為香港已經是中國的囊中物了,我已經把你放在口袋裡了--香港人,你們放棄反抗,我已經把你緊緊握在手上,你奈我何?

The CCP promised Hong Kong ‘one country, two systems,’ the right to elect their chief executive, and no change in 50 years. Nevertheless, the CCP changed their mind overnight. The CCP surely knows the political cost of their treachery—it becomes a deceitful party that publicly breaks its promise. Why does the CCP dare to do it? Because Hong Kong is in the pocket of China—Hong Kongers, you are in my pocket. Give up your resistance. Since you are in my hand, what can you do?

從中國角度來看是這樣的,對台灣也一樣,中共希望台灣在經濟上不斷依存中國市場,這樣他就可以慢慢把台灣收入口袋中,之後在政治上,他有太多籌碼,讓台灣人認知現實,「你已經逃不出我的手掌心,你還要跟我談什麼?」這是兩岸關係的最後結果,是把台灣慢慢配合中共統戰策略、放到中共口袋中

From the point of view of China, Taiwan is in the same position as Hong Kong. The CCP plans to make Taiwan economically rely on the market in China so that it can put Taiwan in its pocket slowly. Afterwards, the CCP will have a lot of chips in the political negotiation. The CCP will let Taiwanese see the reality. ‘You cannot escape from my hand, so what do you want to negotiate with me?’ The end game of the cross-strait relationship is to unify Taiwan and put Taiwan in the CCP’s pocket.

The supporters in the Freedom Square.' Photo by the United Social Press. CC BY-NC 2.0.

The supporters in the Freedom Square.’ Photo by the United Social Press. CC BY-NC 2.0.

Nevertheless, the protests in Hong Kong have inspired Taiwanese activists. A retired professor, Chin-Hsing Liu, talked about what he observed in his trip to Hong Kong this June when an unofficial referendum on voting rights, which earned hundreds of thousands of signatures, was taking place:

這次香港行,給我很大的震撼,過去我以為香港既已回歸,土地相連,人民都自認是中國人,怎麼可能脫離「祖國」的魔掌?[…]我錯了。已經孵化的小雞,不可能再塞回蛋殼去。曾經擁有自由的人,也不會放棄自由的。香港的民主運動起步雖遲,卻方向堅定,力道十足。

This trip to Hong Kong was a big shock to me. Previously I thought since the sovereignty of Hong Kong has been transferred to China, Hong Kong is geologically connected to China, and Hong Kongers used to consider themselves as Chinese, how can they escape from the hand of China? […] I was wrong. You cannot force a chicken back into an egg. A person who used to have freedom will not give up freedom. Although the democracy movement in Hong Kong started late, they have a firm direction and full power.

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