Publications

    Taiwan: A Risk Analysis Through the Lens of Hong Kong
    Kwok, Dennis W. H., and Johnny Patterson. 2022. “Taiwan: A Risk Analysis Through the Lens of Hong Kong”. Read full text Abstract

    Dennis W.H. Kwok and Johnny Patterson, May 2022

    This paper aims to provide an overall risk analysis of the Taiwan Strait situation by using Hong Kong’s experience over the past three decades as a point of comparison. The authors focus on three areas where those watching Taiwan can learn from Hong Kong. Since Deng Xiaopeng’s rule, Hong Kong and Taiwan have been inextricably intertwined, with China intending to reunify both territories using the “one country, two systems” formula. There are, of course, fundamental differences between the situations in Taiwan and Hong Kong. But there are also many similarities from which one can draw useful lessons. In the past three decades, Hong Kong tried to preserve its liberal democratic values whilst coexisting under an authoritarian regime. Hong Kong’s experience proved that a liberal democratic society cannot survive alongside an increasingly aggressive and authoritarian Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime. Taiwan essentially faces the same dilemma.

    Hong Kong offers four key insights: First, Hong Kong provides a window through which to understand the modus operandi of Xi Jinping’s CCP. Political priorities trump all others —while CCP actions make sense within the system, they may confuse outsiders. Ultimately, Xi’s words should be taken literally and seriously. Second, the failure of the “one country, two systems” formula and Hong Kong’s collapse should not be lost on Taiwan. The so-called “United Front” tactics and the political polarization that occurred in Hong Kong are being emulated in Taiwan, with the Kuomintang’s (KMT’s) platform feeling increasingly untenable and anachronistic, especially in light of Hong Kong’s experience. Third, the infiltration of Mainland capital into Hong Kong over the past two decades has changed the underlying structure of Hong Kong as a business and financial center. The effect of ‘red’ capital made local Hong Kong and international business voices irrelevant. The authors saw their ability to influence and thereby moderate government policies waned over the years—leading to disastrous consequences for Hong Kong. Finally, Hong Kong has changed the geopolitical landscape in ways that have profound ramifications for Taiwan and how the international community perceives the CCP. The CCP openly walked back on an international treaty registered with the United Nations. The response of the international community and businesses reveals important lessons about the West’s vulnerabilities to this kind of geopolitical shock should the situation over the Taiwan Strait worsen.

    David Dapice, December 2016 

    A year after the election that gave an historical victory to the National League for Democracy, Myanmar faces a critical juncture. Ethnic war and religious strife stubbornly remain, democratic gains remain fragile and major challenges, from mineral and hydroelectric revenues, to land insecurity, to illicit drug production and use have yet to be tackled meaningfully. In foreign policy, a resurgent China has indicated that it intends to play an active role in settling conflicts along its border and perhaps further afield. Meanwhile, an expectant public looks for signs of progress from a new government that is still finding its way. This paper argues that the internal and external challenges faced by Myanmar are linked, and suggests that economic progress, unity and effective independence will remain elusive (or could decline) unless the leadership explores pragmatic solutions to ethnic and religious grievances and produces economic growth that is high, sustainable, and widely shared. Click here to read in Burmese version

    David Dapice, October 2016 

    Achieving sustainable peace in Myanmar requires a comprehensive effort which involves real negotiations between the army, government and remaining non-signatory armed ethnic groups. This paper makes the case that the resulting Grand Bargain will have to involve some degree of limited autonomy of states and natural resource revenue sharing. It will provide a basis for compensating armed groups on both sides for lost revenue, bringing revenues to Kachin state for development, and facilitating the NLD government’s investment in development spending for the rest of Myanmar in line with its priorities. Given the sizeable estimated total value of jade sales and the fact that, in the author’s estimate, official government collections for jade now amount to only 3% of sales, the paper examines possible modalities for taxing jade at a reasonable level and sharing these revenues in ways that makes durable progress possible. Several other key challenges to national unity are briefly addressed as well. Click here to read in Burmese version
     

    David Dapice, May 2016  

    Kachin has just over 3% of Myanmar’s population but a much larger share of its natural resource wealth, notably in the form of large jade deposits and significant hydropower potential. Research findings indicate that currently most of that wealth is going to private and foreign interests, depriving both Kachin state and the nation of resources they need and should have. The author argues that if Myanmar is to remain united, grow stronger and richer, and attract the states so they wish to belong in the Union, it will be necessary to capture a fair share of this wealth and use it for nation-building purposes, especially in Kachin state. Options for sensible approaches to hydropower, jade revenue sharing, and the state’s development more generally are discussed.

    David Dapice, October 2016

    Religious conflict in Rakhine state threatens the development of Rakhine state and even the stability of Myanmar. In the paper, the author reviews recent 2014 census results and other data that show no long-term increase in the modest share of Muslims in the population, debunking the arguments of some extremist groups. The paper makes the case that a focused development program including investment in village scale irrigation, improved farm and financial services, better infrastructure and labor mobility is needed to improve living conditions for all groups and to provide an environment in which mutual trust can gradually be reestablished. Click here to read in Burmese version.

    Myanmar has less electricity per capita than Bangladesh and only a third of its population is connected to grid electricity. Although Myanmar has huge reserves of potential hydroelectricity, this paper argues that more is at stake than electricity supply, and that the political implications of hydro development are crucial to a peaceful and united future for Myanmar. It cautions that hydroelectric projects undertaken in the past decade had exceedingly disadvantageous terms that serve Myanmar poorly, and that if a stable political framework that promotes national unity is going to be realized, how hydroelectricity projects are approved and developed, and how the revenue benefits are distributed are as important as the electricity itself. Click to read the Burmese version