Democracy in the PRC

For the past few days, the people of Hong Kong have done something unprecedented: revolted against Beijing, a one-party Communist state. It started like this:

For 150 years, Hong Kong had been under British colonial rule, as per the Treaty of Nanking. Then, in 1999, British passed Hong Kong back to China. China deems a “one party, two systems” policy on Hong Kong, making it a “Special Administrative Region” (SAR) for 50 years. What that means is that Hong Kong can maintain some of its autonomy and preserve some of the freedoms that those in the Mainland do not have–freedom of the press and freedom to assemble. Under this “one party, two systems” policy (一國兩制 ), Hong Kong would vote for their next Chief Executive (leader) in 2017. So far so good, democracy in Hong Kong, no problem. But not so fast, as we know of China, promises are not always kept too well. However, on September 26, Beijing handed down a message that for an election to happen, the candidates all must be approved by Beijing. What’s good of a democratic election if Bejing must approve of the candidates of the election? And what happened to the deal about SAR for 50 years? And this is what has ignited the recent protests of mainly college students and youths, occupying local highways and streets, hoping to pressure Beijing to give them full democratic rule.

This revolution has been called the “Umbrella Revolution” because of the Chinese government’s use of tear gas in efforts to disperse the protests. Until now, though there have been some injuries and some arrests (suspects who may be involved with a criminal gang of the Triads), the protest movement has been fairly peaceful. Next week, once work resumes, Chief Executive C.Y. Leung has ordered the students to clear off of the streets to allow safe commute to work and resume all classes. What would happen to the protest next week is still uncertain, but all one can wonder is if this would be a powder keg for Chinese democracy.

Paralleled closely with this concept of “one party, two systems” is the issue with the Republic of China (Taiwan). Considered a “renegade province” by the People’s Republic of China, the PRC too have once proposed such a policy with Taiwan. The Taiwanese have refused, with varying opinions. Taiwan is an exemplary democratic beacon for a lot of East Asia, coined as a “Little Tiger” of East Asia for its thriving economic prosperity and counter-balance to Communist China, and maintains 23 diplomatic missions abroad. With pressures from China constantly, Taiwan still has some leverage in their say. How China deals with the issue with greatly affect Taiwanese trust in China and possibly improve on its economic ties with China. Taiwan currently has free elections and a functioning military. As a result, most Taiwanese sympathize with Hong Kong, hoping Hong Kong can also jump on the bandwagon of Democracy.

Let’s hope the best for Hong Kong: To oppression (PRC), or to Democracy (Taiwan); that is the question…

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