Hong Kong crackdown on Tibet concerns Taiwan

Taiwanese politicians raise questions over citizenship and political reforms amid accusations of mainland infiltration

China’s crackdown on Hong Kong has sparked fears in Taiwan about what are seen as the mainland’s efforts to infiltrate the self-ruled island.

Hong Kong is considered part of China under a “one country, two systems” formula that was meant to give Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy while allowing continued civil liberties unseen on the mainland until recently.

The special status was sparked by British rule of the territory from 1777 to 1997, and it allowed residents to own property, make marriages and be appointed to local and national parliaments, to operate banks, and to observe the high court, like its bigger neighbour mainland China.

The current administration of the Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam, has been dealing with a number of crackdowns, including a strongarm deployment by mainland police to surround a protest with teargas during a student-led pro-democracy rally in 2014.

Hong Kong and Macau are often seen as flashpoints between mainland China and Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a breakaway province.

Pro-independence feeling and the increase in cyber attacks has increased tensions in recent years. A recent uproar centred on an election in Hong Kong in which the police barred competing candidates in a ruling that was later challenged.

Fears have been heightened by the early entry of an unnamed mainland activist in a local election for a city-wide seat earlier this year.

Amid the political tensions in Hong Kong and China, the new vice-chairman of the ruling Democratic Progressive party (DPP) has accused Beijing of “systematically” infiltrating the mainland on Taiwan.

The DPP is led by Tsai Ing-wen, who is seen as more pro-independence than President Tsai Ing-wen. However, the party has shown a shift in support towards more accepting views on the future of Taiwan.

Although the elected DPP legislators in Taiwan’s National Assembly have majority support, they have lagged far behind opposition parties. But over the past month, the public has warmed to Tsai’s policies, suggesting she could lead the next electoral cycle.

On Tuesday, the first DPP councilor to speak in the House was cheered by the public and an order was passed, allowing voters to express their views electronically. “The more I use my mobile device, the more I feel I am on the mainland,” said Shi Tao, the DPP’s representative in the National Assembly, according to the national Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Taiwan.

An analysis by the Global Times, a nationalist tabloid, says the steady rise of pro-Beijing democratic and socialist forces in Taiwan has been due to the “great transformation of social structure and the development of Taiwan society since the 1980s”.

“It’s a scientific approach and a democratic society has come a long way. But on the other hand, a democratic society cannot be separated from the rule of law and impartiality,” said the paper.

News of the study coincided with local politicians in Taiwan, who say the Hong Kong example raises concerns over a possible forced withdrawal of Taiwanese citizens from the island.

“[This is] a possibility due to the Hong Kong phenomenon,” Taiwan’s deputy health minister, Wei Ting-jen, told a press conference in Taipei on Thursday. “Every right thing must be taken into consideration.”

Tsai said last month the island wanted to maintain a good balance of democracy with freedom and the rule of law in the future.

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