French academic warns Beijing's intent of 'absorbing' Taiwan

China hopes to take over Taiwan just like Hong Kong, but domino effect unlikely: French scholar

Taiwan likely next target of Chinese government. 

Taiwan likely next target of Chinese government.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In light of the implementation of Hong Kong's new national security law, Jean-Francois Di Meglio, president of the French independent think tank Asia Centre, warned on Wednesday (July 1) that taking over Taiwan is next on Beijing's agenda.

In an interview with French news magazine Marianne, the French scholar noted that Wednesday was the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from the U.K. He said Beijing's decision to enact the new legislation on July 1 was symbolic and a way to declare its abandonment of the "one country, two systems" framework it had formerly promised to the special administrative region.

Di Meglio said he believed the security law was the Chinese government's response to the surge of Hong Kong pro-democracy protests in 2019 and retaliation for Hong Kong's withdrawal of the extradition law. He said Beijing has waited for the right moment to respond and decided to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic, when global attention has shifted.

While attributing Hong Kong's downfall to the U.K. for failing to set up a democratic system before the handover, Di Meglio pointed out that Beijing has kept details of the security law secretive until the last moment and used the new law to wipe out all opposition. He added that China would most likely allow Hong Kong to keep its financial and economic autonomy so as not to scare away foreign investors.

Di Meglio stressed that China would shift its focus to "absorbing" Taiwan now that it has successfully gained full control over the former British colony. However, he said a domino effect is technically impossible since Hong Kong and Taiwan do not share the same political status.

The scholar proceeded to praise Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for purposefully avoiding usage of the word "independence." By doing so, he said Beijing will have no solid reason to accuse Tsai of treason.

Commenting on a possible response from the west, Di Meglio said there is not much to be expected. He said the majority of western countries are engaging in a "Cold War" with China, but the passage of Hong Kong's national security law will not directly threaten their interests, reported CNA.

Asia Centre President Jean-François Di Meglio. (Asia Centre photo)