ELLEN BORK, Deputy Director
Taiwan, the Vatican, and Hong Kong
like to draw your attention to an editorial in today's New York Sun,
"A Beijing-Vatican Deal?" The Sun's editorial writers
see an important lesson in Beijing's most recent plan to interfere in
Hong Kong affairs for the Vatican should it consider breaking ties with
Taiwan to recognize Beijing.
"A Beijing-Vatican Deal?"
New York Sun Editorial Staff
New York Sun
April 7, 2005
Just as world leaders are gathering at the Vatican for the funeral of
the pope who faced down Soviet communism comes word that a deal may be
in the works between the Holy See and the Chinese communists. According
to Bishop Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, the Vatican is on the verge of breaking
ties with Taipei in order to establish them with Beijing, which outlaws
the Catholic Church and maintains communist-controlled official churches.
No one at the Vatican has stepped forward to confirm or deny the Bishop's
prediction. But it's hard to imagine such a deal with the Chinese communists
being hatched at a time when John Paul II was at the height of his powers.
Indeed, it's hard to see such a deal as anything but a repudiation of
much of what he stood for. And it's hard to imagine what the Vatican could
be thinking it might get out of any deal with the communist camarilla
Just take a look at the most recent example of how Beijing views its promises
to Hong Kong. The interim chief executive of Hong Kong, Sir Donald Tsang,
said yesterday that he will refer an important matter of legal interpretation
of Hong Kong's "constitution," the Basic Law, to Beijing for
resolution. The issue is whether the successor to Tung Chee-hwa, who resigned
in March, should serve out the last two years of Tung's term, or a new
five-year term, as provided for in the Basic Law.
This is no arcane legal matter. Beijing's immediate objective may be to
assure control over Sir Donald - a colonial civil servant under the British
who has fallen in line under communist rule. With a two-year term, Beijing
could dump him after two years, rather than have him serve the five the
Basic Law calls for. But the implications go well beyond Sir Donald's
The citizens of Hong Kong, denied the right to choose their own leader,
invest great importance in the rule of law - even a "law" drafted
and imposed on them by Beijing. This would be the third time Beijing has
decided to "interpret" the Basic Law to suit its purposes. It
did so previously to deny mainlanders with a Hong Kong parent residency
on the island, and, last year, to rule out democratic selection of the
chief executive or the full legislature any time soon.
Despite pledges by the world's democracies to stand up for Hong Kong's
democratic development and the rule of law, Beijing's interference went
unchallenged. The autonomy Hong Kong was supposedly promised has already
been exposed as a myth. At this point, the only good to come of yet more
interference by Beijing is the shame it lays at the door of Communist
China. And, perhaps, the hesitation it may cause to those, from Washington
to the Vatican, who might be thinking that they too can rely on Beijing
to respect its promises.