EDITORIAL: Hong Kong protests rattle Taiwan’s political scene

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) - Han Kuo-Yu’s explicit contradiction of Beijing’s “one country, two systems” took everyone by surprise over the latest weekend. This was his most forceful rejection of the political framework aimed at ousting the Beijing-friendly image depicted by his rivals.

True to his alleged pro-unification stance – he recently met with the directors of Beijing’s liaison offices in Hong Kong and Macau as well as the Communist Party chief in China, he first said: “I don’t know about the Hong Kong protests. I don’t know, I’m not aware.”

The controversial comment not only had a devasting effect on his ratings but also caused some cracks in his well-polished public discourse. He was one step behind President Tsai Ing-wen who deftly declared her support of the anti-extradition protestors. “We don’t want to be an accomplice to an evil (Extradition) Bill,” she said.

That’s the main reason behind Han’s last-minute claim that “‘One country, two systems’ can never be implemented in Taiwan” at the rally on Saturday. “Taiwanese people can never accept it, unless, unless, unless it’s over my dead body,” he suddenly added.

This remark is by no means anodyne. The change of tone is in line with the rising fervor of Taiwan’s upcoming presidential primary organized by the main opposition party. It failed to gain the alliances and loyalty that it should have had it been said earlier in his campaign.

Without a doubt, Han Kuo-Yu’s beliefs regarding the cross-strait policy could have been explicit and clarified before his rivals were given the slightest chance to paint him as a “one country” supporter.

Hong Kong’s citizens can celebrate their success of convincing Chief Executive Carrie Lam to reconsider the extradition law. The opposition party again failed to draw the line with Beijing policies and boycotted a resolution backing Hong Kong’s protests against the contentious extradition bill.

The political mistake has produced immediate results. On Sunday, rallies will take place to call on Taiwan voters to denounce “red media” which closely associate with the Kuomintang and instead support the country’s democratic system. The upcoming 2020 presidential election is poised to increase the aggressive political banter between the ruling and opposition parties.