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Analyst: Controversial Taiwanese Bill Could Mean Trouble for China's 'One China, Two System Policy' - 2003-11-28

A political scientist in Hong Kong says a controversial bill passed in Taiwan shows a cross-section of lawmakers would likely resist Beijing's goal of implementing a "one China, two system policy."

Political scientist James Sung of Hong Kong's City University says Beijing will be forced to re-evaluate applying the "one country, two systems" policy to Taiwan.

His comment comes after Taiwan passed a controversial bill Thursday, allowing its president to hold island-wide referendums to change its constitution.

"Whatever Beijing's government proposed, whatever variation associated with 'one country, two systems' will definitely be opposed not just by the DPP but also by the Kuomintang," he said.

When the Kuomintang, or KMT party, ruled in Taiwan, it maintained it was the only legitimate government of China - a stance Beijing mirrors with its counter-claims over Taiwan. The KMT fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the civil war with the communists.

Over the years, the Kuomintang and Beijing philosophies merged, saying there should be only one China.

Mr. Sung says the Kuomintang appears to have abandoned this stance by voting in favor of the bill, which Beijing says is "secessionist."

China has proposed uniting Taiwan with the mainland under the "one-country, two systems" policy used to govern Hong Kong. It has also threatened to attack Taiwan if it declares itself separate from the mainland.

Taiwan's pro-independence lawmakers say the situation in Hong Kong shows how difficult Beijing's "one-China" policy can be. They point to anti-government rallies this year in which hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents demonstrated against Beijing-backed legislation and local leaders. It was the largest street protest since the territory returned to Chinese rule in 1997 after nearly 150 years as a British colony.

An editorial Friday in the Sing Tao Daily, a Hong Kong newspaper, warned pro-democracy politicians to dissociate themselves from Taiwan lawmakers who want independence.

Some political analysts speculate that Beijing fears calls for wider democracy in Hong Kong will be followed by calls for independence from China.

The Sing Tao editorial emphasized that Hong Kong residents did not oppose reunification in 1997 and their aspirations for greater democracy should not be confused with those of Taiwan's.