At The American Conservative, Cato Institute senior fellow, Ted Galen Carpenter, tells readers that in light of the recent Hong Kong situation, any Taiwan/Mainland China reunification effort looks “utterly remote.” Indeed it is difficult to see Taiwan’s citizens who are no doubt watching Hong Kong closely, harboring any desire to rejoin China and its war on individualism and dissent. He writes (abridged):
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Hong Kong democracy campaign is strengthening hardline, anti-PRC factions in Taiwan. Incumbent President Tsai appeared to be in deep political trouble earlier this year. Taiwan’s continuing economic malaise had undermined her presidency
Chinese leaders now face the prospect of twin humiliating political defeats, and they are not likely to accept such an outcome passively.
As much as Americans are understandably pleased with the democratic factions in Hong Kong and Taiwan, Washington must temper its enthusiasm—and especially avoid any manifestations of meddling.
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