Protesters display placards during a demonstration in Taipei on June 16, 2019, in support of the continuing protests taking place in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition law proposal. - Tens of thousands of people rallied in central Hong Kong on Sunday as public anger seethed following unprecedented clashes between protesters and police over an extradition law, despite a climbdown by the city's embattled leader. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)

Taiwan Learns Lessons of Hong Kong

Al-Ayaam, Ramallah, November 6

The Taiwan issue, which Beijing regards as a rebellious territory that should be restored by armed force if necessary, recently came to the fore following fiery remarks made by Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. In his speech at the 9th Xiangshan Security Forum, Wei asserted that his country was determined to subject Taiwan to its sovereignty in order to fulfill the territorial integrity of China and that no force on earth could stop this. The remarks came after an unprecedented demonstration of power by the Chinese Red Army in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on October 1 to mark the 70th anniversary of the 1949 Mao Revolution – an event that destroyed the national government of Chiang Kai-shek and pushed him to take refuge with his supporters. The Chinese defense minister’s remarks also come at a time when the Chinese leadership fears losing control over booming Hong Kong as a result of its people’s uprising against Beijing’s growing power and tacit violations of the Sino-British treaty under which it regained sovereignty in July 1997. In particular, Beijing has slowly but surely been encroaching on the formula known as “one country, two political systems,” which provided autonomy to Hong Kong to run its internal affairs without interference or dictates from the mainland authorities. It is certainly no secret that this formula has been considered as a potential solution for enabling the Chinese to peacefully reunite with Taiwan. However, Beijing’s failure to manage Hong Kong in a way consistent with the wishes of its people, their democratic heritage and way of life, serves as a case in point to the Taiwanese people that their country must remain a separate entity. The Hong Kong experience shattered the dreams of joining the mainland, while the idea of independence and full national sovereignty became prevalent among the younger Taiwanese generations. This sentiment certainly resonated with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who’s become a staunch and vocal opponent of Beijing’s expansionist policies. In a recent speech given on her country’s National Day, Tsai criticized Beijing’s defiance of freedom and democracy through authoritarianism and nationalism and called on the international community to learn from the events in Hong Kong in order to ensure that the same experiment does not repeat itself on the Taiwanese island. – Abdallah Al-Madani (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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