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Time Bomb: How the Growing Hong Kong-Taiwan Axis Is Riling Beijing

September 23, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrations appear to be having a major impact on Taiwan’s presidential campaign in advance of its January 2020 election.

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Protest leaders urge the Taiwanese to express emphatic vocal support for Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations. To a large extent, that is already happening. Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, frequently speaks out in favor of the Hong Kong demonstrators and their demands, infuriating Beijing. Protests in Hong Kong have made the Taiwanese “increasingly treasure” their democracy and “deeply feel” what it would be like if China treated them the way it’s handling Hong Kong, Tsai said in June.

The emergence of a de facto Hong Kong-Taiwan democratic political axis has heightened Beijing’s nervousness and paranoia. Not only do Communist Party leaders have to deal with the rising popular defiance in Hong Kong to Beijing’s authority, but the prospect of any negotiations for Taiwan’s reunification with the mainland now looks utterly remote. Xi Jinping’s government is not likely to tolerate high-profile policy defeats on two fronts, yet that outcome is a growing possibility. The situation has become a ticking time bomb.

Joshua Wong, a prominent figure in Hong Kong’s street protests, is stepping up his efforts to enlist the Taiwanese. “We hope that before Communist China’s National Day on Oct. 1, our friends in Taiwan can express their support for Hong Kong through street protests,” Wong said at a news conference on September 3. “A lot of people in the past have said ‘today Hong Kong and tomorrow Taiwan.’ But I think the most ideal thing we’d say is ‘Taiwan today, tomorrow Hong Kong.’ Hong Kong can be like Taiwan, a place for freedom and democracy.”

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Such sentiments by themselves are enough to enrage Beijing. But Wong also urged Taiwan’s government to let Hong Kong protesters seek political asylum. Worse from Beijing’s standpoint, he made those statements not in Hong Kong or some neutral location, but in Taipei following meetings with Taiwan’s governing, pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Communist Chinese leaders are likely to …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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