Taiwan Nervously Eyes Hong Kong

  • Share
  • Read Later

As Hong Kong plans for fireworks and champagne to celebrate its reunification with China next Monday, nearby Taiwan has been carrying out massive live-ammunition drills this week to make clear that it has no intention of allowing China to swallow it next. In response to Taiwan's saber-rattling, Beijing is threatening military drills in Fujian, the Chinese province nearest Taiwan, and maintains that Taiwan should view the Hong Kong handover as a blueprint for its own future. The rising tensions between Beijing and Taiwan have created a diplomatic difficulty for Hong Kong, which is stumped on where to seat the Taiwan delegation attending the handover ceremonies. Taiwanese officials who were invited to the bash have refused to be seated next to the mainland Chinese delegation, a position they feel would suggest their downgrading to the status of a Chinese province. But Hong Kong officials stand to lose either way: if they seat the two parties together, the Taiwanese will boycott the events. If they seat them apart, Beijing will consider it a public snub before an international audience. Beijing argues that under the red flag, Taiwan would enjoy even more autonomy than Hong Kong if it chose to reunify with the motherland. But that is what the majority of people in Taiwan fear the most. Says TIME's Don Shapiro, "The people in Taiwan are taking all of this in stride, but there is a growing measure of anxiety that they will be next on the list."