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Hong Kong's Democracy Movement Gets Attention in Taiwan

Occupy Central protesters march with 500-meter long black cloth, which they say symbolizes the loss of credibility in Beijing's refusal to allow true democracy in Hong Kong, Sept. 14, 2014.
Hong Kong's Democracy Movement Gets Attention in Taiwan
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Taiwan’s government called on China this week to respect Hong Kong’s wishes to elect their own leaders. China has ruled Hong Kong since 1997. But, China promised to give Hong Kong some independence.

Chinese officials said earlier this month they will not permit Hong Kong to have open elections. Instead, they want a pro-China group to approve candidates for chief executive.

Many people in Taiwan have watched the relationship between China and Hong Kong closely. China claims control of Taiwan. But Taiwan has operated as a democracy since 1987. China says it wants to unite peacefully with Taiwan.

The Taiwanese are watching what happens in Hong Kong to see if a “one country, two systems” relationship works. But political science experts said the election issues in Hong Kong will make Taiwanese think China will limit their democracy if the two sides join.

Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou has not discussed political differences with China. But a spokesman for Mr. Ma said democracy and rule of law is the goal for Taiwan. The spokesman added Taiwan’s ruling party supported people in Hong Kong who are trying to advance democracy.

Wu Mei-hung is Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister. She urged governments in Hong Kong and China to respect each other. Ms. Wu said she hoped Hong Kong and Chinese officials can listen to each other’s opinions and reach a peaceful agreement.

Lai I-chung is the vice president of Taiwan Think Tank. He said Taiwanese do not like Hong Kong as much after Chinese Communists re-claimed it from Britain.

“I think they’re now looking at Hong Kong as a place that’s a Chinese territory. Since Taiwan democratized and Hong Kong is reverting back to China, Hong Kong is no longer presented as a new place for hope or place for modernity, not a place Taiwan would like to learn from.”

Analysts said neither Hong Kong nor China will change direction because of Taiwan’s opinion. But some believe China may respond gently to the Hong Kong democrats to keep good relations with Taiwan.

I’m Bob Doughty.

Ralph Jennings reported this story from Washington. Kelly Jean Kelly wrote it for Learning English. Mario Ritter edited it.


Words in This Story

approve - v. to agree with; to agree to support

reverting - v. being given to a former owner

modernity - n. a modern way of living or thinking

gently - adv. softly; not roughly or violently

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