Hong Kong handover: Tension rises as Taiwan moves up China's list

The return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty was supposed to be a model for Taiwan's reunification with the motherland. But it is causing problems for all three parties.

When the paramount Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping, devised his plan for one country, two systems, he was mainly thinking of its application to Taiwan, while suggesting that the model would be tested in Hong Kong after the return to Chinese sovereignty on 1 July.

However, as the handover nears, tension between China and Taiwan has again risen with the latter announcing a major military exercise to start on Monday. China is rumoured to be planning a counter-exercise.

The presence of John Chang, Taiwan's foreign minister, in the United States has also raised the temperature, following official Chinese protests and allegations that the visit is in breach of agreements to "restrict US-Taiwan relations to the unofficial arena". Taiwan, which seems to be taking the lead in upping the ante, is nevertheless in the embarrassing position of having to join China in welcoming the end of colonial rule and the reunification of a part of China.

This is why some 60 Taiwanese representatives will be present at the handover ceremony. The delegation is likely to be headed by Koo Chen-fu, a businessman and leader of the quasi-official Straits Exchange Foundation which is taking the first steps in holding reunification talks with Chinese counterparts.

As ever, Taiwan's presence is no simple matter. The Taiwan government insists that its representatives must not be seated with Chinese local government officials, implying that Taiwan is no more than a province.

Earlier in the year the Chinese Communist Party distributed an internal document describing 1997 as a "crucial year" which would see `the historic resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong' and signaled that an attempt would be made to initiate talks with the Taiwan government under President Lee Teng-hui.

However, President Lee is showing no obvious enthusiasm for participation in talks about reunification. Beset by domestic crises, the Taiwanese leader sees little advantage in engaging in a risky bout of diplomacy when public opinion remains heavily against a return to China. A poll published this week in Taiwan showed that just 13 per cent of the population were in favour; 53 per cent were happy with the status quo.

Nevertheless, China is in the throes of reunification celebrations and has hinted that the handover might be an appropriate time to resume the dialogue on this matter.

Although China has made it clear that it will not tolerate what it regards as Taiwan "separatist" activity in Hong Kong, it has not insisted on the closure of Taiwan's semi-official government offices. Pro-Taiwan organisations have staged a strategic retreat, lowering their profile and, in some cases, sending leading members to live in Taiwan. The government has closed down the last remaining pro-Taiwan settlement and the once influential Taiwan- backed trade unions are now barely visible.

But China has given no sign that it will prevent Hong Kong retaining its role as a transit point between Taiwan and the mainland. In January, a tentative start was made in establishing direct shipping links but direct air routes and most cargo transfers remain banned. The largest group of overseas visitors using Hong Kong's airport come from Taiwan, and many Taiwan investors operating in China do so from a Hong Kong base. The establishment of direct ties between China and Taiwan would have a serious impact on the Hong Kong economy.

Suggested Topics
Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Sport
Moeen Ali wearing the 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' wristbands on his left arm
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tv
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Battle of the Five Armies trailer released
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Extras
indybest
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager,Conduct Risk,London,£5-600pd

£500 - £600 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

PMO Manager (Portfolio Management, ExCel, Cost Benefit Analysis)

£450 - £500 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: PMO Manager - 6 month co...

Senior Fund Administrator - Edinburgh - £22 p/hr

£20 - £22 per hour + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Fund Administrator, Top Four ...

Nursery Nurse

£7 per hour: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a better wo...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on