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Editorial : A new challenge facing Han Kuo-yu

【明報專訊】HAN Kuo-yu, mayor of Kaohsiung, made a visit to Hong Kong, Macao, Shenzhen and Xiamen spanning seven days and six nights last week, provoking a whirlwind of emotions across the Taiwan Strait. While he has succeeded in clinching a deal on agricultural products worth more than five billion New Taiwan Dollars, he has also attracted a lot of controversies. On the one hand, the Kuomintang, in view of his huge popularity, is reported to be considering "drafting" him to run in the 2020 presidential election. On the other hand, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the green camp have repeatedly criticised his visit for possibly "a betrayal of Taiwan".

It should be said that Han does have political sensitivity. On his first trip since taking office, he visited Singapore and Malaysia, by doing so chiming in with the Taiwanese government's new Southward policy and preventing touching on the sensitive issue of cross-strait relations. His visit to Hong Kong, Macao and the mainland this time was mainly about promoting Kaohsiung's fishery and agricultural products, and he avoided commenting on "One country, two systems" in Hong Kong and Macao. He also struck a low profile and chose not to respond to criticism from some pan-democrats. However, his high-profile visits to Beijing's liaison offices in Hong Kong and Macao and meeting with Liu Jieyi, Director of the Taiwan Affairs Office, can easily be labelled as an endorsement of "One country, two systems".

To be frank, Taiwanese politicians visiting Hong Kong, Macao and the mainland cannot possibly avoid contacting mainland agencies responsible for Taiwan. It is not a secret that liaison offices in Hong Kong and Macao have departments tasked with handling matters concerning Taiwan. Since the announcement of Qian Qichen's seven principles in 1995, relations between Taiwan and Hong Kong have naturally become an integral part of cross-strait relations. The Hong Kong government cannot possibly have an independent policy towards Taiwan that is different from that of the Beijing authorities. The DPP government should know this very well.

Therefore, Han's visits to the liaison offices are not so much a creative break with precedent as the manifestation of a new measure for the mainland to exert pressure on Taiwan. Han's saying that "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" might not have been just a way to sidestep the question, but also reflected his sense of helplessness. It is worth our attention whether heads of Taiwan district governments visiting Hong Kong in the future will all have a visit to the liaison office as part of the itinerary and whether the Taiwanese government will ban these politicians from setting foot in Hong Kong. If politicians from the DPP can meet with mainland officials tasked with Taiwan affairs or enter the liaison offices in Hong Kong or Macao, on what grounds can they criticise Han for betraying Taiwan?

The high profile struck by the DPP government in Taiwan in its criticism of Han for betraying Taiwan carries deeper considerations for elections. In fact, both Han and everyone know that the DPP has long regarded him as a virtual opponent in the 2020 presidential election.

It is true that the implementation of "One country, two systems" in Hong Kong has run into a lot of difficulties. Opinion differs as to what the destablisation, transformation and distortion of "One country, two systems" mean. Neither Beijing's nor Washington's standards can be solely relied on for the judgement of this matter. At the moment no one knows how the "One country, two systems" plan for Taiwan, proposed by Xi Jinping, will be different from that for Hong Kong. But the Taiwanese people will make a choice wisely. How the cross-strait relations will go will hardly depend on Hong Kong, but Taiwan's independence would undoubtedly put Hong Kong in trouble. We believe that Hong Kong people know this very well.

明報社評2019.04.01:訪港澳大陸被抹紅 「韓流」面臨新考驗

台灣高雄市長韓國瑜上周7日6夜港澳深廈之行,在兩岸颳起一陣旋風,共簽下50多億新台幣的農產品訂單,但也引來很多爭議。一方面,國民黨借助他的高人氣,傳出有意徵召他參與2020年的總統選舉;另一方面,民進黨綠營一再批評他港澳大陸行有「賣台」之嫌。

應該說,韓國瑜還是有政治敏感的,他上任後首度外訪,去的是星馬,既符合台灣政府的南向政策,又避免了敏感的兩岸關係。今次港澳大陸行,也以推銷高雄漁農產品為主,避免了評價港澳一國兩制,對香港泛民人士的批評,也低調不回應。但他高調到訪港澳兩地中聯辦,與國台辦主任劉結一會面,就很容易被標籤是為「一國兩制」背書。

坦白講,台灣政治人物來港澳、去內地,不可能不與大陸對台部門接觸,港澳中聯辦內設有台灣事務部專責對台事務,也不是秘密。自1995年「錢七條」公布以來,台港關係就自然成了兩岸關係的組成部分,香港特區也不可能有不同於北京的獨立對台政策,這一點,民進黨政府也應該心知肚明。

因此,韓國瑜今次到訪中聯辦,與其說是他打破前例的破格之舉,倒不如看作是大陸對台施壓的新舉措,韓國瑜的客隨主便之說,未必是推搪之辭,背後有其無奈之處。未來所有訪港的台灣地方首長,會否都要有拜會中聯辦行程,台灣當局是否因此要所有地方首長或政治人物禁足於訪港行程,值得觀察。如果民進黨政治人物可以見大陸對台官員或進入港澳中聯辦,又有何理由批韓國瑜賣台?

台灣民進黨政府今次高調批評韓國瑜賣台,是有更深層次的選舉考量。其實,韓本人和全世界一樣都知道,民進黨早已把他當作2020年總統大選的假想敵。

「一國兩制」在香港的實踐的確遇到很多問題,什麼是動搖、變形、走樣,眾說紛紜,既然不能完全按照北京的標準來衡量,也不能完全按照華府的標準來衡量。習近平所提的「一國兩制」台灣方案,與香港方案有何不同,暫無人可知,台灣人民對自己的未來自會明智抉擇。兩岸關係的走向難以受香港影響,惟台獨卻肯定會殃及香港。這一點,相信港人都看得清楚。

■Glossary

clinch : to succeed in achieving or winning sth

precedent : the way that things have always been done

sidestep sth : to avoid answering a question or dealing with a problem

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