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Taiwan Supports Hong Kong Democracy    10/01 07:04

   BEIJING (AP) -- Taiwan, an island that China's ruling Communist Party has 
long sought to bring into its fold under the same "one country, two systems" 
arrangement it has for Hong Kong, has thrown its support behind Hong Kong's 
pro-democracy movement.

   Taiwanese leaders also have urged Beijing to live up to its pledges of 
autonomy in the former British colony or risk further alienating the Taiwanese 
public.

   "If Hong Kong can soon achieve universal suffrage, it would be a win-win for 
Hong Kong and the mainland, and it can greatly help narrow the mental gap 
between residents on both sides of (the Taiwan Strait) and allow for the 
relations to develop positively," Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said in a 
statement.

   "Otherwise, it may deepen the antipathy of Taiwan's public and hurt the 
future of relations between the two sides," Ma said in the statement, dated 
Tuesday.

   In August, Beijing rejected a proposal for open nominations of candidates 
for Hong Kong's first-ever leadership election, promised for 2017. Instead, all 
candidates must continue to be picked by a panel that is mostly aligned with 
Beijing.

   In response, tens of thousands of people have rallied in Hong Kong's streets 
since late last week to press demands for genuine democratic reforms that are 
in line with "one country, two systems," the arrangement negotiated for the 
1997 return of the city from British to Chinese rule.

   That constitutional arrangement initially was formulated by China's late 
Communist leader Deng Xiaoping in an attempt to peacefully reunify with Taiwan, 
where the nationalist government of the Republic of China settled in 1949 as 
its last stronghold after losing a civil war to the Communists on the mainland.

   The nationalist government's ambitions to reclaim the mainland later fizzled 
out, and the island became a self-governing democracy, although there has never 
been a formal declaration of independence.

   Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the "one country, two 
systems" arrangement for Taiwan again, only to see it openly rejected by both 
Ma and Taiwan's opposition party.

   Speaking about the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests, Huang Di-ying, 
spokesman for Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party, said the city's 
residents had received "a birdcage election law that made a mockery of what the 
people of Hong Kong had come to expect."

   On Tuesday, Taiwan's governmental Mainland Affairs Council issued a 
statement declaring its support for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and 
invoking its significance for all Chinese people.

   "People of Hong Kong have long had high hopes for the implementation of 
universal suffrage, using it to test if the mainland has truly fulfilled its 
promises under 'once country, two systems,'" the statement said.

   Should Hong Kong's democracy move forward, the council said, "it will not 
only ensure the long-term stability of Hong Kong, but also be of profound 
significance to the long-term development" of relations between China and 
Taiwan and "for the development of democracy and rule of law for the entire 
Chinese people."


(KA)


 
 
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