Sunday, March 19, 2006

Hong Kong Attitudes Toward Taiwan

The University of Hong Kong polls on Taiwan in Hong Kong

The Public Opinion Programme (POP) at the University of Hong Kong today releases on schedule via the "HKU POP SITE" ( the latest findings of people's opinions towards Taiwan issues. As a general practice, all figures have been weighted according to provisional figures obtained from the Census and Statistics Department regarding the gender-age distribution of the Hong Kong population in 2005 year-end. Herewith the contact information for the latest survey:

Hong Kongers apparently detest Taiwan. They oppose Taiwan independence in droves. Why?

Results obtained in early March revealed that, 83% of Hong Kong people interviewed opposed the independence of Taiwan whereas only 11% showed support. Meanwhile, 60% opposed Taiwan rejoining the United Nations, 28% supported it. Moreover, 60% were confident in the ultimate reunification across the strait whilst 32% expressed no confidence. As for the applicability of “one country, two systems” to Taiwan, 53% gave a positive view while 33% gave a negative view.

Why they dislike Taiwan independence so strongly goes unexplained. There is some hilariously bad commentary there:

Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, Director of Public Opinion Programme, observed, “That 83% of Hong Kong people opposed to the independence of Taiwan, and 60% opposed to Taiwan rejoining the United Nations, are both record high figures since these questions started in mid-1993. The 53% who believed that ‘one country, two systems’ could be applied to Taiwan is also record high since this question started in late 1996. Hong Kong people’s strong feelings towards the independence of Taiwan is both a function of their increasing agreement with the Central Government’s viewpoint after the handover, as well as an indicator of their frustration at President Chen Shui-bian’s recent speeches and actions, especially his recent move to cease the function of the ‘National Unification Council’ and the application of its guidelines.”

Ah....the answer is that crazed madman Chen Shui-bian, who is not only the font of anti-Taiwan attitudes in Hong Kong, but no doubt also caused the Black Death, the Little Ice Age, and the original migration of H. sapiens out of their Edenic home in southern Africa. Actually, strong anti-independence attitudes date back to the beginning of the poll in 1993, when already half of Hong Kongers opposed Taiwan independence. Numbers have been trending upward since 1997. Apparently the malign influence of Chen Shui-bian was already so powerful, he afffected Hong Kong even as a lowly and unknown member of the Legislative Yuan and later Mayor of Taipei. Of course, anti-Chen attitudes are to be expected from Robert Chung, who once said that the popularity of Ma Ying-jeou was a blessing to the entire Chinese race. I have this wild dream that the world will come up with more complex explanations of social and political change than It's Chen's fault......

What's the real reason? Jealousy of Taiwan's independent status, an independence Hong Kong will never enjoy? Contempt for the less sophisticated Taiwanese, similar to that leveled by Hong Kong at the Chinese across the border? Inquiring minds want to know.......

....the poll would have been far more informative had it inquired into attiudes toward Taiwan and Taiwan people, not toward issues.

UPDATE: Forgot to thank ESWN for the linky.


Kanwa-Kyudai said...

Many HK people are disappointed to find the slogan of “one country, two systems” has been just a lip service of China. Democratization is slower than they have expected, and they still don't have a due/fair right to directly elect their own top political leader.

So, jealousy for Taiwan's independent status has been increasing. That's why the percentage of HK people to oppose to the independence is record high this year. The more they feel fooled by China, the more they expect China will pay the same lip service to Taiwan.

Michael Turton said...

That's the way I read this, but I'd like some input from HKKers.


Anonymous said...

There has always been a "country mouse" (Taiwan) and "city mouse" (HK) attitude in Hong Kong regarding Taiwan. It's evident in many books, magazines, television programs and movies over the years. I think there's more to this than simple jealousy over supposed freedoms, and it predates the hand over by several decades.

I've noticed this over the last 25 years.

Michael Turton said...

So why the rise that seems to parallel Taiwan's democratic development?

Kanwa-Kyudai said...

> a country mouse and a city mouse

I didn't know HK people felt superior to Taiwan. Most Japanese probably think there aren't anything such as superiority/inferiority complexes between Taiwan and HK. Because we vaguely consider the both have almost the same high standards of living, education and culture.

If Taiwan is a country mouse, China is a big red country mouse. I can imagine how much the pride of HK people was hurt when the communist mouse started to rule them. It surely made their jealousy for Taiwan deeper. Unfortunately, this country mouse never go back to his home.

Anonymous said...

Taiwan has sports teams, countryside/urban contrasts, dialects in different regions (this is more apparent with Taiwanese), enough of a mass that they can support research into things other than practical technology things and Chinese (its own history, aboriginal languages), has its own military.

In many ways, Taiwan is something that HK is not and could never become; even if HK were granted independence and formed its own democracy, it'd lack a lot of "country" characteristics that Taiwan has. HK is basically bigger in certain businesses, but the average HK person is generally not as well educated as the average Taiwanese. The average income is higher in HK, but really, overall, if you look at the top in Taiwan versus the top in HK, Taiwan wins hands down. Taiwan has a lot of old people that live, from their point of view, very satisfactory lives, and they are not going to take a risk and try to make a fortune. Because of the lack of agriculture and similar industries in HK, you couldn't live a low income satisfactory life.

Jing said...

Jealousy of Taiwan's independence is why Hong Kong does not support Taiwan independence...

Give me a break. Hong Kongers don't support Taiwan independence because they are at some level politically Chinese and Taiwanese subnationalism is intrinsically based on an abstract anti-Chineseness.

Anonymous said...

It parallels the "democratic development" in Taiwan only in the last 15 years.

Before that it was about Hong Kong being more international. Many viewed Taiwan as being behind cmpared to Hong Kong's place in the world, backed up by the Hang Seng, etc.

I suppose the economic development of Hong Kong in the late seventies until the late eighties helped foster this arrogance to a larger degree.

Then Taiwan started to chug along and the fangs really started to appear.

Taiwan's prosperity coupled with its serious political corruption, and Hong Kong's lack of self governance until the twilight hours of the Patton administration, only to be pissed away with the establishment of the S. A. R. after the handover - I believe that's when the neurosis came into full effect.

I guess, in a very roundabout way, what I'm trying to say is that it was a snowball that turned into a pseudo avalanche around the time Hong Kong's reunification began.

Most Hong Kongers have little concern over Taiwan, anyway. They may have a smidgeon of prejudice, but they're too busy worrying about day to day shit to care, really.

I see your points, but you read way too much into it. Once the DPP have a new face (Chen exiting office) you might see opinions change towards the positive as well.

He's definitely persona-non-grata, and Hong Kong has always had a large number of mainland sympahtisers.