Saturday, October 11, 2014

ROC National Day: Ma calls for Hong Kong Democracy


In his 10/10 speech President Ma urges China to try democracy, first in Hong Kong, and the whole world reports on it (LA Times, The Guardian via AFP, IBTimes). Hong Kong's importance is at last putting Taiwan on the world stage, as an up-and-coming writer on Taiwan reminded me in chat today, to our mutual satisfaction.

The Taiwan Mainland Affairs Council followed Ma in calling for democracy in Hong Kong...
Protecting Hong Kong people's basic human rights such as freedom of assembly and speech and allowing Hong Kong democracy to blossom "will not only guarantee Hong Kong's stability but will also play a significant role in the long-term development of cross-strait relations," the MAC said.

In his speech, Ma backed the democracy protests in Hong Kong and urged Beijing to fulfill its promise of a high degree of autonomy in the special administrative region.
The irony of Ma, who spent his political career fighting democracy in Taiwan until the late 1990s and was one of the last holdouts against repealing the national security laws in the early 1990s, calling for democracy in Hong Kong was not lost on observers here. There was also some laughter at Ma's irony-free praise of the Hong Kong protesters while excoriating the Taiwan protesters for hurting democracy, though both were doing exactly the same thing for pretty much the same reasons.

It's not difficult to see why Ma might call for Beijing to give Hong Kong greater autonomy. Remember that the people of Taiwan and the KMT itself have rejected the One Country, Two Systems offers of a succession of Chinese presidents. But it is obvious that the KMT can't continue in power in Taiwan after annexing the island to China without local autonomy. China's Hong Kong policy, which continues to strengthen independence feelings in Taiwan and has dealt a body blow to US policy in doing so, is also putting a crimp in KMT plans to maintain power in Taiwan after the handover -- which they can't do without Beijing's cooperation. Ma's calls for Beijing to let Hong Kong have autonomy are really desperate pleas for Beijing to permit Hong Kong autonomy to save the KMT and to perhaps stop making annexation to China so unattractive to the Taiwanese.

Hong Kong is unlikely to hurt the KMT's chances in the local elections here in Taiwan next month, which are decided on local issues, but may well impact the 2016 presidential election campaign, which will begin in the latter half of next year.
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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your explanation of the KMT's goal for unification makes total sense, and also makes clear that what they want is as impossible a dream as Take Back the Mainland 光復大陸 was. The fundamental principle of the Communist Party is that it shares power and authority with no one.

Anonymous said...

Should anything Wolfowitz says be taken seriously? He is a flawed character and one of the architects of the Islamic State group disaster in Iraq and Syria. And as chairman of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, his opinion reflects nothing more than the interests of America's agricultural and services sector. Wolfowitz knows better than anyone that the days of Washington selling Taipei nothing but outdated, junk military hardware are over. He also knows that Taipei is dragging its feet on paying for every purchase agreed to since Ma took in office May 2008. When will the people of Taiwan get up off their knees and bring the curtain down on this pathetic pantomime?

Anonymous said...

Having abandoned his "I am Taiwanese if you please" as a vote-getting strategy, he has changed tack to now become a "champion of democracy."

Mike Fagan said...

"... the Hong Kong protesters while excoriating the Taiwan protesters for hurting democracy, though both were doing exactly the same thing for pretty much the same reasons."

They were not doing "exactly" the same thing, and you know this. The HK protesters were demanding universal suffrage, which Taiwan already has, whereas the Sunflower protesters were demanding that a trade deal be revised or rejected in the Legislature.

That is a categorical difference.

You might say that there was a similarity in the broader aims of their action viz resistance to political control from Beijing, but to say that the two sets of protesters were doing "exactly the same thing" is obviously false.

A Realist said...

But it is obvious that the KMT can't continue in power in Taiwan after annexing the island to China without local autonomy. China's Hong Kong policy, which continues to strengthen independence feelings in Taiwan and has dealt a body blow to US policy in doing so, is also putting a crimp in KMT plans to maintain power in Taiwan after the handover

And what is this handover you talk about? Have the 80%+ citizens of Taiwan opposed to unification suddenly decided they want to unify with China? Have the DPP and other smaller opposition parties decided to forego independence and throw their lot in with China?

Please explain how this handover could actually happen.

Michael Turton said...

Please explain how this handover could actually happen.

It couldnt. But that doesn't stop the KMT from behaving as if it could.

Anonymous said...

Feel good Taiwan link (Orioles pitcher ~ manager says Chen is from Taiwan, not Chinese Taipei)