Taiwan watches Hong Kong reunification closely
June 29, 1997
Web posted at: 4:05 p.m. EDT (2005 GMT)
From Correspondent Sohn Jie-Ae
TAIPEI, Taiwan (CNN) -- Thousands of Taiwanese gathered at a
"Say No to China" protest in Taipei this weekend, waving
flags and shouting slogans as they asserted their
independence from Beijing.
The crowd, put by police at well over 70,000 -- one of the
biggest in Taiwan history -- denounced China's long-time
claim to the island, home to the defeated Chinese Nationalist
government since the end of the civil war in 1949.
Just across the street, another group was celebrating Hong
Kong's handover to China at midnight Monday and asserting
their wish for eventual reunification with China.
China has, in fact, extended an offer to Taiwan of reunion
under the "one country, two systems" model that brings Hong
Kong back to China after 156 years of British rule.
Yet despite the differing stands, neither group wants Taiwan
to become another Hong Kong.
"Hong Kong is a colony. Its problem is how to get rid of
colonialism," said Chang King-yuh, chairman of the Mainland
"But Taiwan has been a sovereign state since 1912. We are
entitled to international activities, we have our central
government, we have our defense, we have our constitutional
democracy. We are not Hong Kong. So regardless of how the
one-country, two-system approach is implemented in Hong Kong,
it cannot be applied to the Republic of China."
China says Taiwan will return to mainland
China has vowed to keep Taiwan from going too far down the
road toward independence. Beijing has clearly stated that
after reclaiming Hong Kong, then Macau in 1999, Taiwan will
Taiwan is not taking China's threats lightly. This past
week, it went ahead with regular military exercises, a move
that many interpreted as a thinly veiled warning to Beijing.
Taipei will be watching closely to see how Hong Kong changes
under a system that Beijing hopes will reassure Taiwan and
ease the way toward reunification.
"If the democratic institutions developed in the past couple
of years in Hong Kong remain intact and even make more
advances, sure, that will make the so-called 'one country,
two systems' rather attractive," said Ma Ying-jeou, a former
"But I doubt very much that (Beijing) will allow Hong Kong to
develop democratic institutions as the people of Hong Kong
will like to have."
Taiwan, China linked economically
Economically, Taiwan and China are already closely linked.
Despite the Taiwan government's cautious approach,
approximately 30,000 Taiwanese companies account for some
U.S. $30 billion worth of investments in China, mostly routed
through Hong Kong.
"China is the biggest dominating country in the world. Hong
Kong is the fastest growing city market, and Taiwan is
skillful in high-tech production," Chiao Yu-chi, the
president of Walsin Lihwa Corp. said, drawing a sports
analogy: "Just like you put Michael Jordan, Carl Malone, and
Scottie Pippen on one team, I don't think anyone can beat
that kind of collaboration."
And, say many in Taiwan, it is a union that works just fine
the way it is. While Taiwan voices strong political
differences with China, most here would follow their
pocketbooks and choose to stick with the status quo.
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.