Sunday, July 6, 2014

'Beijing's Promises Have Turned Out To Be Worthless'

A commentary by Lin Baohua 
RFA - 2014-07-04

Protesters march during a pro-democracy rally seeking greater democracy in Hong Kong, July 1, 2014. AFP 

Organizers of the July 1 march in Hong Kong said half a million people turned out in support of full democracy and the Occupy Central movement. In Taiwan, half a million turned out in support of the "Sunflower" student movement.

Both these gatherings appear on the face of it to be concerned with the internal affairs of Hong Kong and Taiwan, such as the reform of Hong Kong's political system or constitutional reforms and a trade agreed signed with China by Taiwan.

And yet everyone knows that the most influential figure behind the scenes wasn't Hong Kong chief executive C.Y. Leung, nor Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou, but the Chinese government in Beijing.

These popular movements that were so clearly aimed in its direction received similar responses from Beijing. The unofficial poll on true democracy carried out ahead of the July 1 march garnered the support of 790,000 people. Beijing said that this is a small number, compared with 1.3 billion people in China. When Taiwan's 23 million people achieved a consensus on its political future, Beijing also said that Taiwan's future would be decided by 1.3 billion Chinese.

Global catastrophe

Thank goodness for China's family planning policies. Otherwise, the political future of the entire world would be decided by Chinese people, leading to a global catastrophe.

China's 1.3 billion have no way to determine their own fate, however, which is decided for them by the [ruling] Chinese Communist Party. To put it even more plainly, the fate of the Chinese people isn't even decided by the Communist Party's 80 million members, but by the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee.

So of course Hong Kong and Taiwan are going to think that appropriating these 1.3 billion people in order to wipe out the dignity of Taiwan and Hong Kong people is a form of gangster logic.

We are fortunate that the majority of people can see through the threats made by the Communist Party for the fraud that they represent.

Otherwise, those two half-millions wouldn't have been possible.

When Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997, you could see this as a major setback for Hong Kong and a move towards dictatorship, but you could also see it as China swallowing Hong Kong, and then wanting to spit it out again [like a bone in the throat] because it couldn't digest it.

There have been many marches of several hundred thousand in the years since, showing the fierce determination of Hong Kong people. And yet they can't be spat out, because that would be a massive loss of face, leading to accusations of being "a traitor to the Han people."

Unthinkable before

Once the bone is lodged in the throat, however, it won't go down and it causes damage. Since the handover, we have heard calls for Hong Kong independence, something which was unthinkable before 1997.

The mainland's aim with "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong had been to go on to apply it Taiwan as well. But now, President Ma's recognition of a "one China framework" means they don't even need "one country, two systems" in Taiwan now. Indeed, Beijing proclaimed the death of "one country, two systems" with its white paper on its implementation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in June.

In the eyes of the people of Taiwan, all Beijing's promises have turned out not to be worth the paper they were written on, which makes people in Taiwan even more frightened of the Hong-Kongification of Taiwan.

This is what gave rise to the Sunflower student movement in March, and led to such unity between popular movements in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

And yet, the place where citizen movements have the biggest potential for impact is in mainland China itself.

That's why China had to shut out news of Taiwan's Sunflower movement and twist it into something else, and why it did the same with Hong Kong's Occupy Central movement.

But now Hong Kong is "one country" with China, and there have already been citizen movements in Hunan and Shenzhen in support of Hong Kong.

The 'strolls' of the Jasmine Revolution have morphed into an "Occupy" movement. How could Beijing not be scared? There are also Xinjiang and Tibet to think of.

Bone in throat

Faced with civil protests in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the bone that sticks in the throat, Beijing can only try to swallow Taiwan more slowly and more peacefully.

It has evolved a new strategy, now that Ma Ying-jeou has panicked and messed things up.

And yet, Taiwan affairs office chief Zhang Zhijun was forced to return home early in anger after continued popular pressure on the authorities, particularly the student movement, curtailing a visit that had been intended as a show of hegemonic power.

Whether Beijing will reflect and reform itself in the wake of the two "half-millions," or whether it will go all out to grab further power, will affect the entire future direction of China.

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