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讓世界看到彩色的香港 讓香港看到彩色的世界

Opinion | A Tale of two leaders--and of two regions

By Philip Yeung, university teacher


What a study in contrast! At exactly the time when Ma Ying-jeou, the former Taiwan leader, made a nostalgic trip to the mainland, returning to his roots for the first time and welcomed home like a long-lost son, Tsai Ing-wen, his successor, was offering herself as a pawn in America's geopolitical game, kowtowing to China-bashing US politicians. Ma's emotional visit was shared on social media and melted millions of mainland hearts. In a single day, it exploded with 120 million likes. With an uncanny sense of timing, Ma shows Taiwan how to repair the ruptured relationship. Tsai, by contrast, was cursed as a traitor by sputtering-mad Chinese patriots in America. One offers a common future, the other pumps boatloads of cash into the accounts of American merchants of death for deadly weapons. One promises the sunny upland of peace, the other the gates of hell. 

Despite her LSE education, Tsai can't think straight. How can she not realize that Beijing will never accept Taiwan as a US surrogate? It's like having a foreign master in your household. During Ma's rule, Taipei and Beijing enjoyed a long honeymoon, with the 1992 Consensus anchoring cross-strait relations, and both practically breathing through the same nostrils. Now all you hear is saber-rattling and the drumbeat of war. By prostituting herself to America, Tsai is hastening Taiwan towards doomsday. How does she sleep at night?

Beijing had pinned its hopes on Taiwan's eventual and peaceful return to the motherland on the Hong Kong and Macau model. It works like a charm in Macau. But Hong Kong is another story.

Hong Kong is vulnerable—unlike Macau, it is only half-decolonized at best and crawling with sinister foreign agitators. 

Hong Kong is historically an economic city, and its people are economic animals.  Pre-Handover, they were indifferent to politics. Suddenly, they were handed more freedom than they could handle. Under the British, street demonstrations were banned. But after they left, Hong Kong quickly descended into the "protest capital" of the world—the curse of excess freedom.

A high degree of autonomy opened the floodgates to freedom, quickly weaponized by anti-China activists. What Hong Kong needed was not more freedom but better local leadership, not the likes of the disaster-prone Carrie Lam.

Neither New York nor Washington, nor London enjoys this much freedom. None allows rioters to occupy its streets for 10 months. Yet, the unrest was portrayed to the world as a fight for freedom. Hong Kong was on the brink.  

Simple-minded activists never told us they were fighting for a worthless objective: Under the Basic Law, candidates for the top job must first win Beijing's blessing. Given the poor slate of candidates, a universal vote is meaningless. The city is awash with smart money-makers, but wise leaders are a rarity.

For this useless one-person-one vote over lousy leaders, they paralyzed the city---a high price exacted for a hollow ideal. 

Organizers of lawless protests included a tenured professor of law. He and his cohorts got carried away, playing superhero to American cheerleaders, making pilgrimages to Washington for photo-ops with Nancy Pelosi. 

In an ugly show remote-controlled by America, rioters reached a point of no return. Local political clowns began hallucinating of winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The circus had come to town.

But soon, the pendulum has swung the other way-- a belated chaos control, not a trampling on basic rights.

Unconscionable Western press came to Hong Kong blindfolded, determined to bad-mouth China and acted as American mouthpieces. 

They didn't tell the world that "One country Two Systems" was faithfully honored by Beijing, but dishonored by anarchists. Under the system, locals were not supposed to call for the downfall of the CCP. They wanted two systems but no country. Washington knew, if things went south in Hong Kong, geopolitical repercussions will spread, most notably, across the Taiwan strait. Tsai was teetering on 11% popular support. The mess in Hong Kong breathed new life into her politics.

Had Hong Kong carried off the experiment smoothly, Taiwan might have been ready for Beijing's embrace. Instead, it now threatens to become another Ukraine, despite being Chinese territory. But China is not Russia, and Taiwan is not Ukraine. 

China has a big dream, and America is determined to derail it--inadvertently aided and abetted by an incompetent local leader who in five short years sold the national reunification master-plan down the river. 

Hong Kong must reboot its system, heal the wounds and seize the opportunities dangled by the Greater Bay Area. This time, give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and focus on local livelihood. As for Beijing, bring Taiwan back into the fold, using Ma's healing ways. Dialogue, not dogged enmity. A purely domestic quarrel must never escalate into a history-ending global conflict. Outside meddlers trying to fish in troubled waters can take a long walk on a short pier.


The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.

Read more articles by Philip Yeung:

Opinion | Where is the joy in JoyYou Card?

Opinion | Capitalism has changed China for the better, but has made America and Britain worse

Opinion | Is Hong Kong heartless?



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