President Jiang Zemin and his aides have given unmistakable indications that Beijing is taking a harder line on Hong Kong. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership, however, has also dangled what could be an economic lifeline for the recession-riddled Special Administrative Region (SAR). Jiang and other senior cadres such as Vice Premier Qian Qichen were in Hong Kong for only twenty-four hours to mark the fifth anniversary of the July 1, 1997 change of sovereignty. Yet the tough and surprisingly unsubtle statements they made on Beijing-Hong Kong relations have left little doubt that the delicate line between the mainland and the SAR is being blurred.
In his July 1 address, the 75-year-old president and party chief claimed that experience in the past five years had shown that late patriarch Deng Xiaoping’s “scientific concept of ‘one country, two systems’ and ‘a high degree of autonomy'” were “entirely workable.” Yet, recent developments, including Jiang’s own statements, seem to show that the multisplendored possibilities of “two systems” could be sacrificed on the alter of the monolithic requirements of “one country.”
AN INVITATION OR A SUMMONS?