Wednesday, June 11, 2014

There is no dealing with Beijing

Martial dance.

J Michael spent some time on China's first ever White Paper on Hong Kong.
China on June 10 issued its first-ever white paper on “one country, two systems” and the current state of things in Hong Kong, the former British colony that was re-unified with the Mainland in 1997. While the document contains little that is unexpected in terms of rhetoric that expounds the virtues of the system or calls for patriotism, the timing of its release — this summer promises to be eventful as activists prepare for a series of sit-ins, “unofficial” referenda and other escalatory measures in defiance of Beijing and its allies in the territory — is very telling. The unintended message of the white paper is that Beijing is worried, and that further restrictions are to be expected. There are a few lessons and warnings in there for Taiwan.
As my friend Tommy Patterson remarked on Facebook, it is not as though we didn't know that One Country Two Systems is a facade. Democracy in Hong Kong threatens Party control over China, while democracy in Taiwan keeps it free. Hence the paper says that Taiwan would be able to maintain its capitalist system -- note, not its democracy -- over a long time, which, as J Michael observes, is not indefinitely.

One common position held by pro-unificationists who are not Chinese is that Taiwan should annex itself to China now to get "the best deal" that it can. But Beijing wants Taiwan annexed and its democracy crushed. Cole writes:
Hence the several warnings in the white paper, such as: “The high degree of autonomy of HKSAR is not an inherent power, but one that comes solely from the authorization by the central leadership. The high degree of autonomy of the HKSAR is not full autonomy, nor a decentralized power.” [italics added by JMC.] We are told who is boss, and reminded that autonomy could be denied should things degenerate in the territory. More ominous is a passage in the section “Fully and Accurately Understanding the Meaning of ‘One Country, Two Systems,’” which emphasizes that China is, in the end, a “single-system nation” (中華人民共和國是單一制國家). The mask is off: one country lies supreme, and there is absolutely no reason to believe that Beijing is even willing to countenance a more permissive model when it comes to Taiwan, as was made perfectly clear late last month when the Taiwan Affairs Office shot down a “greater one China” proposal initiated on Taiwan’s side to help resolve the impasse in the Taiwan Strait.
The resulting political system will depend on the "goodwill" of Beijing. Which has none. Beijing's treatment of Tibet (tearing up the 17 point agreement) and Hong Kong (delaying or not implementing agreements) shows that idea of "a good deal" is a delusion. In neither example has Beijing kept its promises. There is no good deal to be had from Beijing, it's Beijing's way or war.
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Tommy said...

A mention on your blog? I am honored. By the way, one more thing struck me in the white paper. You have noted the claim that the "two systems" does not refer to two political systems but to the difference between socialism, which is the system that most of the country lives under and capitalism, which is the system that HK lives under. What struck me about this is that nobody except the Chinese government in its official documents claims that China has a socialist system anymore. And China has been trying to get the US to declare that it has a market economy for years. So if China is actually capitalist, what does that do for One Country, Two Systems? Naturally, the CCP is not going to declare China capitalist, but it does complicate One Country, Two Systems. It is funny that I had always thought of the two systems simply as two political systems, regardless of the ideology behind them. Therefore, Beijing's clarification is actually a complication.

Whirled Peas said...

The problem with "one country two systems" is while one country might be able to accommodate two economic systems at least for a while (e.g. China's socialism or "capitalism with Chinese characteristics" versus Hong Kong's free market capitalism), it is difficult for one country to operate with two political systems: authoritarian (China) and democratic (Hong Kong). You run into problems like what recently happened with HSBC in HK -- it launched a HK$28 million ad campaign via the Apple Daily but then had to cancel just because the CCP didn't like the newspaper's independent bent. Foreign investors are getting worried about the unpredictable nature of doing business in Hong Kong.

Readin said...

"Tea party congressmen block important study of warming climate on Chinese tea production. "

I'm not sure why such a study is important. If global warming is occurring then surely we should be focusing on the more serious effects rather than on how much tea will be available.

And the tea is in China! If anyone is going to pay for such a study it should be the Chinese!

I say bravo for this American congressman who blocked this wasteful spending. America already can't afford things we need, we certainly can't afford studies like this.

Blowing money like we have an unlimited supply is like blowing carbon dioxide like we have an unlimited supply of atmosphere.

Readin said...

If we're going to spend money on the effects of global warming on crops, we should at least spend the money on American crops.

FOARP said...

@Tommy - "Socialism" in CCP-speak just means "whatever the hell we say our government is" - it isn't really used in any meaningful sense.

In reality many countries, including market economies, are socialist to some extent. In the UK health care is free at the point of delivery, the dole is paid to the unemployed, benefits are paid to support parents, pensions are paid out by the state etc. etc.