Go TO Content

Jun. 29, 2006, No. 065

  • Date:2006-06-29

This July marks the ninth anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China. The Chinese authorities have continued to strongly interfere in Hong Kong's affairs, placing higher emphasis on China’s so-called "one country" in its "one country, two systems" formula. The MAC appeals to the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to strengthen official contacts with Taiwan and to actively and pragmatically promote the development of Taiwan-Hong Kong relations.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) today (June 29, 2006) issued a "Situation Analysis: Nine Years after Hong Kong's Handover" (July 1, 2005-June 30, 2006). The report indicates that over the past year, China has continued to strongly interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs. Moreover, the HKSAR government has exercised a self-imposed restriction on Hong Kong’s autonomy, placing higher emphasis on China’s so-called "one country" in Hong Kong's "one country, two systems" model. Nevertheless, the people of Hong Kong remain firm in their demand for democracy. The international community also remains deeply concerned over whether the rule of law and Hong Kong’s autonomy will be maintained. The MAC emphasizes that the Hong Kong people’s insistence on universal suffrage is aimed at embodying the universal value of democracy. This is the matter that Beijing and the HKSAR government should not ignore. The MAC also appeals to the HKSAR government to strengthen official contacts with Taiwan in order to provide an even better quality of service to the people of Taiwan and Hong Kong.

According to the report, since Hong Kong’s handover in July 1997, there have been at least 169 controversial incidents involving infringements of freedom, human rights and the rule of law. Six such incidents occurring over the past year have caused impacts on freedom of speech and Hong Kong’s autonomy. Reorganization of the Committee of the Basic Law for the KHSAR and the establishment in Hong Kong of a friendship association by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) have raised concerns over the blurring of the boundaries of the "one country, two systems" formula. Moreover, according to the annual report of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), China’s investment in the Hong Kong media has led to increasingly serious problem of media self-censorship. The HKJA worries that Beijing and the HKSAR government are attempting to slowly curtail or even ultimately sacrifice freedom of speech and press in Hong Kong.

The MAC report states that over the past year, Hong Kong's economy has recovered, Hong Kong Chief Executive’s reputation has risen, and the relations between the HKSAR government and pro-democracy lawmakers have eased. However, after the pro-democracy lawmakers overruled the HKSAR government's proposed political reforms, the HKSAR government has moved closer to the pro-China camp and attempted to distance the pro-democracy parties. This has created uncertainties over the timetable for achieving universal suffrage in Hong Kong. Several public opinion surveys indicate that 60 percent of the Hong Kong people have consistently supported the implementation of universal suffrage as soon as possible, demonstrating that they have remained firm in their demand for democracy. Pro-democracy lawmakers will also continue to hold the fourth “July 1” march to strive for universal suffrage, and they are preparing to hold a civilian-organized general election for the chief executive at the same time as the official chief executive election to highlight the undemocratic nature of the current "clique" election. It is believed that the establishment of some new pro-democracy groups will also be conducive to the development of democratic rule of law in Hong Kong.

The MAC report also shows that Hong Kong's economy grew modestly last year, due to a global economic recovery and China's promotion of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) and travel to Hong Kong. However, there is still concern that Hong Kong's industries will be marginalized amidst China's robust economic development. Moreover, the weighting of Chinese enterprises in Hong Kong's total market capitalization is increasing every year. As of the end of 2005, there were 335 Chinese enterprises listed on the Hong Kong bourse, with a total market value of over HK$1.097 trillion. These figures represent about 30 percent of the total number and nearly 40 percent of the total value of all companies publicly listed in Hong Kong. The over-integration of China and Hong Kong could pose political and economic risks for Hong Kong.

The MAC indicates that over the past year, Taiwan and Hong Kong have continued to maintain close contacts. During 2005, total trade between Taiwan and Hong Kong reached about US$32.62 billion, an increase of 2 percent from 2004. During the same period, more than 2.73 million Taiwan travelers visited Hong Kong, and over 335,000 people from Hong Kong visited Taiwan, increases of 17.4 percent and 6.2 percent over 2004, respectively. The scope of civilian exchanges between Taiwan and Hong Kong is broad and diverse, encompassing academic, business, private association, student and media exchanges. Such activities include democratic politics, economic development, educational reform, medical care services, culture and arts, news reporting, and religious activities.

The MAC concludes that although contacts between the people of Taiwan and Hong Kong are close and frequent, official exchanges remain limited. The HKSAR government has occasionally procrastinated or made unreasonable demands in managing the visa applications of Taiwanese government personnel for handling emergency situations. The MAC emphasizes that Taiwan welcomes stronger personnel exchanges between Taiwan and Hong Kong and hopes that the HKSAR government can adopt a more positive and pragmatic attitude to jointly promote the benign development of Taiwan-Hong Kong relations.