21 July 2019
Huang Kuo-chang (fourth from right) heads the new alliance to support calls for democracy in Hong Kong. Photo: Facebook/Raymond Chan
Huang Kuo-chang (fourth from right) heads the new alliance to support calls for democracy in Hong Kong. Photo: Facebook/Raymond Chan

Can Hong Kong rely on Taiwan to help it fight for democracy?

Many Hong Kong people admire the culture and democratic political system of Taiwan but would they also accept Taiwan politicians voicing out support for Hong Kong democracy?

On Monday, about 20 Taiwan lawmakers formed an alliance to support calls for democracy in Hong Kong. The group is led by Huang Kuo-chang, chairman of Taiwan’s pro-independence New Power Party, and includes lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

Several Hong Kong pro-independence politicians and activists including Nathan Law, Joshua Wong, Alex Chow, Chu Hoi-dick and Raymond Chan attended the launch ceremony.

“We need to be united and share our experiences more as we are faced with suppression,” Wong said, adding that his party does not advocate independence for Hong Kong but self-determination.

There are many reasons for politicians in Hong Kong and Taiwan to join hands against the Communist Party of China. The alliance could cement the public impression that both Hong Kong and Taiwan are under massive pressure from Beijing. That should help send a signal to the world community that Hong Kong and Taiwan are the victims of Beijing’s “one China” policy.

New Power Party said Hong Kong and Taiwan face difficulties like a housing shortage and an inefficient youth development policy. The party would be a good platform for exchanging ideas.

The incidents concerning the disappearance of Taiwan’s Lee Ming-cheh and Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay booksellers, as well as problems in Hong Kong’s democratic development and Taiwan’s lack of international recognition are tied to the authoritarian regime in Beijing.

Meanwhile, the new alliance could trigger another round of criticism of local pro-independence politicians. Beijing could further label them as enemies of the “one China” policy. 

Hong Kong and Taiwan may just want to find a way to get rid of the iron rule of China. Beijing, on the other hand, could interpret the move as an attempt by the younger generations from both places to challenge the legitimacy of Beijing’s rule over Hong Kong.

The alliance also shows the transformation of the pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong.

Previously, traditional democrats from the Democratic Party were willing to challenge Beijing’s red line under the “one China” policy. But now, a younger generation has taken up the role to promote Hong Kong’s independence overseas.

In fact, if Beijing kept its promises under the Basic Law and the Joint Declaration, Hong Kong people should enjoy a high degree of autonomy under “one country, two systems”.

But sadly, Beijing failed to keep its commitments, which worked against the interests of Hong Kong people, but strengthened its political agenda.

Hong Kong is not a closed-door issue. The global community has also expressed its concern about Hong Kong’s democratic development.

Early this year, US Republican Senator Marco Rubio, his partymate Tom Cotton and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin jointly reintroduced the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” to Congress, a move that might prompt Washington to review its policy on Hong Kong and increase uncertainty in Sino-US relations in the days ahead.

Once the bill is passed, the State Department will submit a report on the state of human rights and democratic development in Hong Kong to Congress on a yearly basis.

It’s not surprising that Beijing would ferociously attack the Taiwan-led alliance as evidence of collusion between pro-independence forces. But the Hong Kong and Taiwan partnership should send Beijing a warning that it needs to keep Hong Kong in good shape.

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EJ Insight writer

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