How are the relations between Taiwan and Hong Kong


2. Political upheavals and continuity of change: Taiwan, Hong Kong and the PRC

Taiwan crisis in spring 1996

Without a doubt, the most influential event of the past year was the Taiwan crisis in the spring. The People's Republic of China tried largely unsuccessfully to use extensive military maneuvers outside Taiwan to influence the voting behavior of the citizens of Taiwan, who went to the polls in March to determine the first democratically legitimized president in Chinese history. The Chinese maneuvers had tightened the apparatus of the People's Liberation Army (VBA) to the utmost and their effect can be assessed ambiguously.

The maneuvers had a rather counterproductive effect on the island population's urge to become self-employed, as they confirmed the image of the People's Republic of China as a factor of threat. Beijing's fears that President Lee Teng-hui is pursuing a policy of de facto independence with a growing majority of the KMT should have received clear confirmation towards the end of the year, at least from a Chinese perspective. On December 23, 1996, at the bipartisan "National Development Conference", far-reaching plans for constitutional reform of Taiwan were decided, above all the abolition of the Taiwan provincial government - the popular provincial governor of Taiwan, James Soong, then resigned. This step is extremely momentous, as it lifts fiction that a "Republic of China" exists on Taiwan, whose state territory is theoretically all of China, and Taiwan just one of its provinces.

The military maneuvers have just given the tremendous economyand administrative Effort demonstrates once again that the PRC is in fact unable to Occupy an island republic by force: unless at the cost of extensive destruction. Although the older generation of the party elite of the CP at this Vision holds on in principle, it should anyway low probability of this step will continue to dwindle in the course of the generation change - subject to an escalation of irrational nationalist sentimentgen. In this respect, the Taiwan crisis paradoxically left a mark of stability. The fear of one widespread in the region growing Chinese military power is likely to leave room for a realistic assessment The backwardness of the Chinese military technology as well as the growing economic one Difficulties in financing military expansion into account.

However, stability does not mean political rapprochement between Taiwan and the PRC. While Taiwan is continuously trying to further improve its international position (keywords: vacation diplomacy and UN membership), Beijing has consistently adhered to a hard political line in the wake of the maneuvers and tried to instrumentalize Taiwan's economic interest groups for its own goals (offer direct shipping connections under Beijing's sovereign jurisdiction and the exclusion of foreign shipping companies). In 1996 the Taiwanese government therefore repeatedly and emphatically exerted an influence on the behavior of Taiwanese companies with investment bans and strong "moral suasion" and initially stopped some spectacular projects by private and state businesses (such as cooperation on oceanic oil exploration). In view of the paramount importance of the transition from Hong Kong in 1997, this stalemate situation is unlikely to change much. Taiwanese domestic politics are finally converging on a broad consensus on the upgrading of the status quo, i.e. the policies of President Lee Teng-hui: His clear victory in the presidential elections demonstrates that this consensus lives up to the expectations of the vast majority of the people of Taiwan. This became particularly clear with the split of the Taiwan Independence Party from the Democratic Progressive Party. As a result, the DPP, as the original supporter of Taiwanese independence, has now made a pragmatic turn towards the center and has thus politically marginalized the radical representatives of independence.

At the beginning of 1997, Beijing seems to be pragmatically adjusting to this status quo, regardless of ideological propaganda: In January, representatives of shipping companies on both sides agreed in Hong Kong on various procedures for direct traffic between Kaohsiung and Xiamen and Fuzhou. This would implement a proposal by the Taiwanese government that had previously been categorically rejected by Beijing's counter-proposal.

Containment or classification: USA, Japan and the rise of China to regional power

Therefore, the most important outcome of the Taiwan crisis remains the Erknowing that the US continues to play a crucial role as a safethe guarantee of safety in the Asia-Pacific region. The deployment of aircraft carriers with the simultaneous demonstration of logistical and organizational efficiency was obviously not expected by the Beijing military establishment. With this misjudgment of the situation, the "foreign politicians" who had increasingly lost influence after the successes of the Taiwanese "flexible diplomacy" in 1995 were able to regain their preponderance in the party's internal power conflict. With the result of the American presidential elections in autumn, which China welcomed, this will mean that there will be more continuity in the longer term in Sino-American relations, which have always been severely impaired by mutual misperceptions and respective domestic political constraints.

So the relationship between Beijing and Washington remains a central factor in the security building of the region. The CP itself plays hesitantly and dangerously domestically with the instrument of anti-American nationalism in political propaganda, but certainly also in part in its own self-view. The feeling of one's own military inferiority is hit at the most sensitive points when the USA and Japan try to revitalize their security policy alliance under changed conditions (joint security declaration by President Clinton and Prime Minister Hashimoto in April, i.e. immediately after the Taiwan crisis) . The US tries hard to give the impression of being a "containment"-To counteract politics (domestically more and more demanded by weighty voices of the Republicans) and have therefore successfully initiated closer military cooperation between Beijing and Washington towards the end of last year, a project that had been pursued even before the Taiwan crisis (visit by the Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian in Washington). Even American diplomacy tries to enter into direct talks with openly nationalist and anti-American authors such as the authors of the book "China Can Say No". Such steps could also serve the interests of the American arms industry: At the beginning of the year there was a scandal over illegal technology exports to China, which shows the pressure of high-tech companies to open the Chinese market.

The US is still almost alone in the difficult task of Chinas rise to a dominant To keep regional power stable - not to restrict it - because from the Chinese point of view it is Japan is still an oppositionplayers, and all other actors in the region are, at least individually considered of too light weight. Main factor behind the mistrustcompared to Japan that is Coexistence of continuously growing politable and economic weight of Japan in the region and persistent Unability of Japanese politics and society, with the legacy of the second To deal appropriately with World War II. The Japanese preponderance in technological and economic terms can hardly be seen in actual trade and investment relationships, but by no means only affects the PR China, but rather the Chinese cultural area as such, whose economic dynamism would be inconceivable without the technological and organizational transfer from Japan. How great the anti-Japanese resentment continues in the Chinese cultural area was shown by the activists during the "occupation" of the Diaoyu Islands, where the flag of the PRC was hoisted by Hong Kongers and that of the Republic of China by Taiwanese (right-wing Japanese Groups, for their part, had set up a beacon beforehand). But Beijing itself reacted extremely cautiously, on the one hand fearing that national feelings could ultimately have a destabilizing effect on domestic politics, but on the other hand clearly tried not to contribute to the strategic-military uncertainty in the region after the Taiwan crisis.

The Chinese leadership is therefore determined to create strategic balancing factors, as in 1996, especially with the other Improvement of relations with Russia (President Yeltsin's trip to China in March 1996). China's foreign policy in 1996 - as in previous years - was clearly shaped by the goal of gaining external stability for internal development, which is dominated by many imponderables and risks. Nevertheless, it remains unclear again and again to what extent active strategic and possibly also expansive interests are at the same time in the background. In the case of Russia, this applies to the increasing intensification of military cooperation and the extensive Chinese armaments purchases in the field of high technology.

This is particularly evident, of course, in the case of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, where China schleiadequate expansionism is explicitly derived from cultural claims - and not from internationally recognized law. The conflicting territorial claims of the various neighboring states still show a considerable potential for military destabilization, as the largest Indonesian sea maneuvers to date in September 1996, with which the Indonesian claim to the Natuna Islands (also South China Sea) against one Formally, previously not openly raised territorial claim of the PRC was confirmed.

Despite President Jiang Zemin's visit to India and Pakistan (November 1996), the situation remains similarly diffuse Relationship with South Asia: It is observed with concern how China is endeavoring to ultimately create strategic potential in the Indian Ocean by improving relations with Myanmar (Burma) (port access); Beijing and Rangoon signed an initially unpublished military cooperation pact in October. The fact that Jiang traveled on from New Delhi to Islamabad reinforced the impression of ambivalence aroused by the allegations once again made by the USA in 1996 that Beijing was supporting Pakistan in building up nuclear potential. This criticism is only one aspect of the various Western attempts to better control China's role as an arms exporter.

Countdown: Hong Kong's way back to China

If one summarizes the various observations, it can be stated that the PRC 1996 made a particularly clear effort, through foreign policy activism and power politics shadowbox to enforce your own goals: Since it is not possible to do this in a direct way realize (e.g. territorial claims), attempts are made to meet the expectations and fears of others political Akexploiting expensive ones for one's own purposes, all the more solike that to achieve "anticipatory obedience".

In the end, the British colonial government in Hong Kong had to painfully experience the impetus that such a strategy can carry. The PRC has been very successful in the design of the overgangs in 1997 and any idea of ​​a transition phase (the "through train "), which bears British handwriting, was rejected. The tough Beijing strategy ultimately isolated Governor Chris Patten to such an extent that the Legislative Council took note of his last political report with "regret": Pro-Chinese forces criticized the uncertainty that had emanated from the British attempt to impose democratic reforms with power otherwise never operated a colonial government - democratic forces condemned British indulgence.

The most important stabilizing factor for Hong Kong is, of course, the tactical instinct with which Beijing's preferred candidate for the post of first Chinese governor, Tung Chee-hwa (Dong Jianhua), was enforced at the end of the year. The indirect elections via a selection committee structured according to social groups were not only remarkably open, but also in a campaign climate in which the various applicants made a strong effort to win the favor of the public. One could speak of a "choice of mood". It remains to be seen whether these events reverse the trend of a deterioration in sentiment at the executive level, which was clearly evident in the spring of 1996: In a survey, around half of all respondents said they had lost confidence in Hong Kong's future. This is countered by the considerably more subdued acceptance of the election of the "Provisional Legislature" by the same electoral body, which in July 1997 replaced the current Legislative Council, legitimized by elections. Even according to the provisions of the Beijing "Basic Law" for Hong Kong, this legislature is not properly elected and therefore not legitimized. In this respect, Hong Kong enters 1997 with a mixed perspective: the trend towards Disregard for rule-of-law procedures increases, security through personal factors, So the informal networks between Beijing and Hong Kong is gaining in importance.

With Tung, a Hong Kong native from Shanghai "business tycoon", Hong Kong will be run by a businessman who is undoubtedly able to mediate between business circles and the Beijing party elite (and probably the "Shanghai clique" that is currently dominant there). At the same time, however, it has already become clear that Tung will follow the Beijing line in the narrower political sphere. For example, months before the election, Foreign Minister Qian Qichen clearly announced that demonstrations would no longer take place in Hong Kong on the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. Tung will become Beijing's ideas "political correctness" the former colony prevail. The question arises as to how widely this attitude is accepted by the population. The massive anti-Japanese demonstrations in the autumn also contained an element of criticism of Beijing's passivity. In January 1997, the Hong Kong advisory committees for Beijing made far-reaching proposals for the curtailment of demonstration rights etc. in Hong Kong, which should be implemented by the Chinese People's Congress before July 1st. Such events raise increasing doubts as to whether Beijing will consider the political side of the transition treaties in the future.

There are therefore observers who fear that after 1997 populist strategies will be pursued to give the new administration legitimacy. The starting point is the growing social problems of Hong Kong, which arise among other things as a result of the economic integration with Guangdong. Tung has in its previous positionclearly identify responses to economic policy let him want the government to have a stronger hand in economic policy (industrial policy, Social policy). This would mean that some of the basic principles of Hong Kong's previous economic system would be in place Question as well as the declaration of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council in March 1996, Hong Kong should be developed even more into a service center in the region. Here are indicated there is already considerable potential for internal conflict between the new political leadership and the civil Service that embodies the traditional Hong Kong political ethos: In January, a public dispute about the announced more restrictive and interventionist policy took place between Tung and the Financial Secretary, Donald Tsang. However, the Hong Kong government will be tightly shackled by the location competition in the Asia-Pacific region. The decisive factor then is whether the government of the PR China gives the Hong Kong leadership sufficient leeway for strategic adjustment even when sensitive political issues are touched.

PRC: Problems of governability

In the case of Hong Kong as well as in the People's Republic of China it is becoming clear again and again that a central instrument of power of the CPC is the control of access to leading positions in politics and business. In many other areas that are more difficult to grasp, the CP has ever been able tobut the The centrifugal trend towards the country's declining governability can hardly be stopped. To outside this is artfully hidden by some political measures that are actually only the formalize the factual status quo, in such a way that control ability is seized is suggested. For example, this is regularly evident in the US-Chinese trade conflicts, which are so important for China's accession to the WTO because of the influential position of the US: Beijing finds it easy to adopt liberalization measures such as the transition to convertibility in ongoing transactions (December 1, 1996) as to represent a fulfillment of the conditions for access to the World Trade Organization, while it is all the more difficult to guarantee the protection of intellectual property rights, since this requires a functioning legal and administrative system inside. The Chinese leadership can loosen the rope that society uses, but not pull it in a certain direction with the rope.

One cause of this gradual erosion of central government control potentials is inner-Chinese locationcompetition for foreign direct investment. He defines on the one side so far clear positions of power in such regions, which have a particularly strong influx experienced and therefore relatively independent of funding from Beijing are: Gerade the richer After the tax reform of 1994, provinces were once again able to use exception rules in the redistribution process enforce who at least maintained their status quo. On the other hand will be institutional and administrative restrictions of Beijing (for example with industrial policy goals) more and more by the Undermined efforts by less-favored locations that attract direct investment want. In this respect, a paradox seems to emerge: precisely the economic success that is so necessary is to uphold the legitimacy of the CCP and the Beijing central government, undermines the Beijing's power base. A British China expert recently described this as the effects of "downwardly mobile strategies" of the various regional governments operating as "local states" operated. In this way, on the one hand Beijing's position is weakened, but on the other hand - for example because of the fiscal benefits for investors - the "local states" are also sawing their own branch on which they are sitting. In this respect, economic dynamism gains far-reaching political dimensions.

© Friedrich Ebert Foundation | technical support | net edition fes-library | May 1999