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Session 111: Democracy in Offshore Chinese Societies under Beijing’s Shadow: Elections and Realpolitik in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau, 2003–04
Organizer and Chair: Ming K. Chan, Stanford University
Discussant: Thomas B. Gold, University of California, Berkeley
Keywords: democracy, identity, PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, reunification.
Democratic deficit remains a fatal flaw in Beijing’s re-integration approach toward Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau with the "one country–two systems" local autonomy "push" and the China market "pull." This panel’s four papers will highlight why reunification and democratization have been antagonistic in Greater China.
The China factor has been crucial to Taiwan’s 2004 March presidential and December legislative elections. Chao’s paper pinpoints the Beijing-Taipei dynamics as both a communism-democracy contest and a Chinese nationalism—Taiwanese identity rivalry. Beijing’s frustrated quest for Taiwan’s reunification (retarded by pro-independentist Chen Shui-bien’s re-election) also impacted Hong Kong where the "high degree" of autonomy was jeopardized by Beijing’s preemptive veto of proposed local 2007–08 direct elections. Analyzing Hong Kong’s 2003 July mass protests and November district council polls and the September 2004 legislative elections, Lo’s paper illuminates why Beijing regarded local democratization demands as a dangerous "Hong Kong independence" threat.
Despite socio-economic improvement, Macau is not a genuine democratic polity under the "one country–two systems." As the August 2004 chief executive election exemplified, Yu’s paper affirms the undemocratic informal politics as Macau’s realpolitik. Beijing’s responses to the challenges of these offshore Chinese democracies are delineated in Wu’s paper, which focuses on the politics of identity, sovereignty, and domestic institutional change to enhance the PRC/CCP party-state’s domestic legitimacy and across-Strait appeal.
As evident in the five 2003–04 Greater China elections, despite increasingly close economic integration, the lack of political accommodation based on democratic convergence continues to trouble Beijing’s relations with Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The China Factor in Taiwan’s Quest for a New Identity
Chien-min Chao, National Chengchi University,Taiwan
A side effect of Taiwan’s transition to democracy has been the rise of Taiwanese identity at the expense of the old Chinese identity. More Taiwanese now regard themselves as Taiwanese instead of Chinese. A comprehensive campaign has engulfed the island where people are frantically pursuing localized values as opposed to the Sinicized values inherited from and nurtured during the era of KMT rule. For some, Taiwan nationalism is on the move. Rectification of the nation-state’s name is no longer a taboo, nor is the writing of a new constitution. In what has been known as a move to "de-Sinicize" the mindset of its people, Taiwan is determined to walk its own way. The PRC has vowed to take punitive measures if this localization trend is not reversed.
Taipei-Beijing relations have been suffering from a lack of communication and trust. Recent developments in Taiwan have been dubbed by some as a process of nation-building. The new nationalistic sentiment simmering in Taiwan will inevitably cast a pall over the icy political ties between the two cross-Strait nemeses.
This paper will examine the impact of the exogenous China factor on the rise of Taiwanese identity and nationalism. Beijing’s heavy-handed policy in suppressing Taiwan’s internal as well as external activities such as the holding of the first referendum in tandem with the 2004 presidential election and the joining in international organizations such the WHO has irrevocably whipped up alienation and even the hostility of the Taiwanese towards the PRC as East Asia’s emerging giant.
Democracy Postponed: Hong Kong as a Political Threat to Beijing?
Shiu-hing Lo, University of Hong Kong
Since the 2003 debacle over the Basic Law Article 23-stipulated national security bill in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the PRC, Beijing has adopted a more interventionist policy toward the territory. Beijing’s hardline stance became prominent in December 2003, after the political earthquake on July 1 when half a million protested in Hong Kong, where the pro-Beijing front suffered serious losses in the November local district council polls. Beijing’s new assertiveness climaxed in the National People’s Congress (NPC) April 2004 Basic Law interpretation that postponed universal franchise for direct election of the HKSAR Chief Executive and the entire Legislative Council (LegCo) until at least 2012, rather than in 2007-08 as demanded by Kong Kong democrats.
By June 2004 Beijing had shifted to a softer approach as it sensed the danger of provoking a democratic camp victory in the September 2004 LegCo elections. Some democrats also began to promote a dialogue with Beijing toward détente. Beijing’s veto of HKSAR 2007-08 direct elections stemmed from its perception of a political threat from Hong Kong democratization, which in Beijing’s eyes may follow Taiwan’s pro-independence path. Although no HKSAR democratic leader has ever advocated independence, the more "radical" democrats have been labeled by Beijing as "pro-Hong Kong independence" activists—a myth created by Beijing’s misperception. Linking democracy with runaway localism in the two islands, Beijing’s misperception was reinforced by Chen Shui-bian’s victory in the March 2004 Taiwan presidential polls.
Formal and Informal Politics in Macau Special Administrative Region Elections
Eilo Wing-Yat Yu, University of Macau
Politics, marked by Haruhiro Fukui, can be categorized into formal and informal types. The former is defined as the political participation under the "rules and institutions" while the latter is a kind of "conventions and codes behavior," such as cronyism and the guanxi network, in the political sphere. These kinds of politics are interacting and functionally inseparable in political systems.
With reference to these concepts, this paper will explore the interactive dynamics between formal and informal politics in the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) elections, specifically for the Chief Executive and Legislative Assembly. It will highlight the ways and means with which the Beijing and the MSAR authorities shaped the electoral institutions to undermine political opposition. At the same time, they would like to coordinate the pro-Beijing elite’s political power sharing through informal negotiations and bargaining.
It will further argue that formal politics possesses more than window-dressing functions to reveal the "normal and orthodox form of politics" while the informal type is the real process for decision making. The formal and informal politics undermined the political input of the mass in Macau and thus attributed to their political apathy. Finally, it will conclude that the dynamics of formal and informal politics did not possess enhancement but corruption in forging a genuinely democratic MSAR polity. The August 2004 second election of the MSAR chief executive should offer an illuminating case study.
Identity, Sovereignty, and Institutional Change: Beijing’s Responses to Offshore Chinese Democracies
Guogang Wu, University of Victoria
Investigating how the PRC responds to democratization in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau, this paper argues that the Chinese Communist leadership has mainly developed three strategies in managing the complicated crises, including Beijing’s own legitimacy crisis and the integration crisis of the Chinese nation, caused by the rise of offshore Chinese democracies. These strategies are: identity politics, sovereignty politics, and limited institutional change within the mainland.
With ‘identity politics,’ Beijing identifies the Communist leadership as the sole Chinese national identification, and utilizes the nationalistic passions of mainland and even overseas Chinese people against democrats in Taiwan and Hong Kong, by labeling the latter ‘separatists’ or ‘national traitors.’ Further, Beijing defines ‘sovereignty’ in a way in which the ‘central’ government monopolizes all possessions of the nation, and excludes ‘people’s sovereignty’ from the politics of national reunification or the ‘one country, two systems’ model actualization.
While appealing to both ‘soft power’ based on ‘patriotic nationalism’ and ‘hard power’ embedded in national sovereignty, however, the Chinese regime also tries to develop its own model of elections, or ‘democracy,’ on the mainland, particularly at the grassroots level, to cope with the challenges brought by offshore Chinese democracies to the regime’s political legitimacy. In this process of institutional change, offshore Chinese democracies in turn play a crucial role in stimulating China’s democratic transformation.