A former Taiwanese president who once favoured closer ties with China said Friday that One Country, Two Systems in Hong Kong is dead after Beijing announced major changes to the city’s electoral system.
Ma Ying-jeou, of the Kuomintang (KMT) party which is now in opposition, said Beijing’s move means the One Country, Two Systems arrangement has “officially passed into history” and described it as “very regrettable.”
Similar regrets were expressed by the current leader of the KMT, Johnny Chiang. He called on Beijing to “ensure Hong Kong’s freedoms and democratic values” in order to “capture the people’s hearts.”
Ma and Chiang were responding to reporters’ questions at a ceremony at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall to commemorate the 96th anniversary of the death of the Republic of China’s founding father.
The comments from the KMT figures signal moves by the traditionally pro-China party to distance itself from Beijing.
Beijing has offered the same One Country, Two Systems arrangement to self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, which it claims as its own province. Beijing sees Taiwan’s nationhood as a threat to its own sovereignty and has repeatedly threatened to “unify” it with mainland China, by force it necessary.
China’s legislature passed a resolution on Thursday to ensure “patriots” govern Hong Kong. The move will reduce democratic representation in the legislature, tighten control of elections and introduce a pro-Beijing vetting committee to select candidates.
The Hong Kong government said the overhaul would ensure the city’s stability and prosperity. But the changes also prompted international condemnation, as it makes it near-impossible for pro-democracy candidates to stand.