Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It’s ‘One Country, Two Systems’ or ‘One System’

A white paper on the successes of the ‘one country, two systems’ model for Hong Kong contains the usual propaganda and a few serious warnings

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.

Prepared by the State Council Information Office, “The Practice of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ Policy in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” (full text in English here and Chinese here), argues that “one country, two systems” is “not only the best solution to the Hong Kong question left over from history but also the best institutional arrangement for the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong after its return to the motherland.” First articulated by Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), the formula maintains that there is only one China — the People’s Republic of China — which operates under a socialist system (with Chinese characteristics, inevitably), while the “Chinese” territories of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan would, once “re-unified,” be able to retain their capitalist systems “over a long time to come” — not indefinitely (italics added).

My article, published today on Thinking Taiwan, continues here.

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