A senior Chinese military officer complains that ‘demonization’ of ‘One Country Two Systems’ has deprived Taiwan people of their ‘right to know the truth’. If they wise up, he suggests, they could be the lucky winners of Ten Big Exciting Privileges. Hongkongers with memories of Beijing’s promises in the 1980s-90s get a free nostalgia trip into the bargain.
The first four ‘privileges’ entail self-administration with separate legislative and independent judicial systems (including right of final adjudication). Privileges 5 and 7-10 give Taiwan the right to its own foreign cultural and economic arrangements, its own financial/tax system, its own currency/monetary system, its own tariffs and its own passports. No mention of whether Taiwan can remain democratic or control other areas (like immigration), but the implication is that these would be part of the deal, subject to the proviso that everything must be in accordance with ‘reunification’ and ‘national sovereignty’. The sixth privilege is maintenance of its own military (again, conditions apply).
Even if Taiwanese could believe this kind and generous offer, they would wonder ‘why bother?’ – their country already has these ‘privileges’, and more. But why would they believe it after they have seen what happened to the mostly very similar ‘1C2S’ ‘high degree of autonomy’ Beijing promised to Hong Kong?
Since the 1997 handover, China has redefined ‘One Country Two Systems’ and shifted the original stress on insulation from Mainland influence and methods to a need for integration and conformity. Crucially, Beijing has broken its promise on representative government, and increasingly exploited mechanisms that override or sidestep Hong Kong’s judiciary.
The more ‘One Country Two Systems’ is weakened and blurred in Hong Kong, the more ardently Beijing’s officials insist they adhere to it. Anyone watching from Taiwan can see that Beijing has breached the original commitment and started to directly control Hong Kong. Can a Leninist one-party state do otherwise?
One depressing aspect of Mainlandization is the rise of CCP-speak among Hong Kong officials. Discussing the curious case of Ming Pao boss Gu Zhuoheng’s attempted abduction, the venerable Jerome Cohen chimes in on the lame ‘interference in internal affairs’ pantie-wetting-cliché.
Mainlandization of the Week has of course been extradition. HK Free Press carries Eddie Chu and Edward Yiu on the background and possible consequences. Two join-the-dots questions on links between this hurried measure and: a) Canada’s arrest for extradition of Huawei’s Ms Meng; and b) Beijing’s ongoing campaign to symbolically assert ownership of Taiwan. Meanwhile, SCMP quotes local tycoons like nice Henry Tang who, for reasons we couldn’t possibly speculate on, find the idea of extradition to China for white-collar crimes waaay too scary. To repeat: Those who live by the shoe-shine, day by the shoe-shine.
I declare the weekend open with a small but exquisitely curated selection of reading.
Too innocent to be Mainlandized (yet): a Hong Kong playgrounds and their history. Also on urban planning: how China missed the chance to leapfrog Western-style car-focused cities and went for super-blocks.
A good background on the US-China economic conflict, notwithstanding curiously adoring things to say about Robert Lighthizer.
And in the Creepy Department: how China is shifting from ‘One Child’ to pump-them-out-for-the-motherland Natalism and, for extra positive energy, racial purity…
…eugenics and traditional family values will make up two essential pillars of future Chinese natalist policies. This means “high quality” Han children produced in a legitimate marriage are the only ones the state is interested in…
Has Xi Jinping been watching The Boys from Brazil?