KAOHSIUNG (Taiwan News) -- It is possible that you are not an avid reader of the Japanese newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun. You may not, therefore, have taken in their op-ed which addressed the Chinese Communist Party’s "One Country, Two Systems" policy.
If your Japanese is up to the task, you should seek it out because it is a powerful piece and the fact that it is being run in a major Japanese newspaper is significant.
The crux of their argument is that Communist China is growing increasingly authoritarian under the leadership of Xi Jinping and, as a result, any promises they might make to Taiwan about a "One Country, Two Systems" arrangement will not be worth the paper they are written on. There is a high chance that Xi will “deviate from his promise” once he has what he wants, they state.
To most people not under the thrall of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda, this might seem a bit like stating the obvious, but the crucial addendum to their case is the ascertain that "One Country, Two Systems" will “never obtain credibility internationally.”
This is very important and even more so as it is being said in a big Japanese publication. The point they are making is that the rest of the world can already see through the CCP’s lies and understand that "One Country, Two Systems" is nothing more than conquest by another name.
Why do they think this? The short answer is Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Case Study
Whenever Xi Jinping stands up and addresses what he calls his “Taiwan compatriots” trying to lure them in with a promise of retaining their democracy while being sucked into the Communist Chinese empire, all thoughts should immediately turn to Hong Kong.
In Hong Kong, the reality of a "One Country, Two Systems" clearly stretches the definition of the word "two." Yes, they still have elections there, but candidates for the role of Chief Executive, the de facto political leader of Hong Kong, require approval from Beijing to stand.
Those elected to the Legislative Council are required to take an oath swearing allegiance the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Those who refuse to do, which effectively means those who advocate democracy or independence for Hong Kong, so are unable to take their seat.
In 2016, no fewer than six elected council members were denied their seats because of they either refused to swear the oath or deliberately swore something different. In a statement, the so-called Hong Kong SAR government condemned the six for “hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.”
There is also the treatment of those who have the temerity to take to the streets to exercise their right to freedom of speech. Those who protest vocally or who organize protests against the influence of Communist China in Hong Kong can expect to be arrested, brutalized, and jailed.
When they are eventually released, they can look forward to a life or near constant surveillance from law enforcement and CCP-backed special forces not to mention severe restrictions of their basic rights and freedoms. Last year, prominent democracy advocate Joshua Wong was banned from traveling outside Hong Kong, four years after he was involved in the "Umbrella Movement." This meant he was unable to attend events in Taiwan, the UK, and elsewhere.
A climate of fear
Then there is the climate of fear that everyone in Hong Kong now lives under. CCP surveillance is everywhere and while Chinese law enforcement has no jurisdiction in Hong Kong, there are no shortage of people who have disappeared off the streets of Hong Kong only to miraculously re-appear in CCP custody in China. The most famous instance of this state-sponsored abduction was that of five staff members of a bookshop in Hong Kong.
Their crime? Authorities in Guangdong said all five were arrested as a result of an outstanding driving violation against one of the men. There was no explanation as to how they ended up in Guangdong, in custody, without the necessary travel documents. It is widely accepted that they were abducted because their shop sold books which mocked CCP leader Xi Jinping.
This is just a snapshot of the reality of life under the so-called "One Country, Two Systems." The truth is it barely scratches the surface of how Hong Kong has been turned into an authoritarian outpost some thirty years earlier than the CCP are legally permitted to do so.
Chinese contempt for the international community
How can the CCP get away with such a flagrant breach of the agreement they signed with Britain when Hong Kong was handed over in 1999 which specifically stipulated a 50-year transition period. The answer is that quite simply, they don’t care.
Communist China has no regard for any international agreement that doesn’t suit their own interests. They will sign anything to get what they want, but don’t expect them to abide by it if they decide they don’t want to.
Britain still watches developments in Hong Kong closely. Every year, the British Parliament releases a report condemning Communist Party activity in Hong Kong. And every year, the CCP tells them to keep their noses out of Chinese domestic affairs. That is what Hong Kong is now in the eyes of the CCP, it is a domestic affair, a part of China, and the CCP thinks it can do whatever it likes there.
Of course, the truth is that it can. Until recently, no other country had the courage to stand up to China. The British Parliament might write reports, but the CCP knows full well they won’t act on any criticisms they make.
If Taiwan acquiesces to CCP pressure to accept a "One Country, Two Systems" arrangement with China, this is what the future has in store for Taiwan too. Many Taiwanese people know this and clearly many Japanese do too.
The Yomiuri Shimbun op-ed sends a clear message to Taiwan from Japan. It is warning Taiwan not to fall for the lies and duplicity of Xi Jinping and the CCP. But it is also sending a clear message that Japan sees what Communist China is up to as well.
While Taiwan and Japan may have a difficult history, the two burgeoning democracies in Asia have far more in common than Taiwan and Communist China. So, if Taiwan really feels it needs a closer ally in the region, it is not across the Taiwan Straits, but north that they should look for a friendly and mutually beneficial relationship.