When Deng Xiaoping invented the 'one country, two systems' formula, he did not have Hong Kong in mind. In fact, he wanted to use the system as an enticement for Taiwan to 'return to the motherland'. Many Hong Kong people do not know this, but it was only after former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher first visited China to renegotiate Hong Kong's 100-year lease on the Kowloon peninsula and the New Territories, in 1982, that Deng decided to use the concept to entice her to return the territories. He intended Hong Kong's return to be a model for Taiwan's eventual return, which he wisely knew would be a much trickier matter. Deng died in 1997, just a few months before the handover, but if he were alive, he might not be very happy with the state of affairs in Hong Kong, or with the Tung administration's mishandling of the Article 23 issue. Of course, the central government wanted Article 23 legislation, but it was up to the Tung administration to sell it to the people. Instead of selling it, the administration tried to ram it down people's throats. Now it has become a debacle that is making a mockery of 'one country, two systems'. Instead of winning the confidence of the Taiwanese people and bringing Taiwan back to the fold, the Tung administration's management of Hong Kong is lending even more credibility to the Taiwan independence movement and the support base of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The march of 500,000 people in Hong Kong on July 1, the fifth anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China, has provided President Chen Shui-bian and the DPP with plenty of ammunition going into next year's presidential elections. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa spent a significant part of his career in Taiwan as the head of Orient Overseas Container Lines (Taiwan). He should realise his historic responsibility to 'sell' the notion of 'one country, two systems' to the Taiwanese. His father, C.Y. Tung, was a close friend of Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek. One of Mr Tung's younger sisters is married to the son of a former senior KMT general and remains a famous socialite in Taiwanese circles. Instead of gaining Taiwanese confidence in Hong Kong's return to China, Mr Tung has, in fact, convinced most Taiwanese that the 'one country, two systems' formula is impossible to work and that if Taiwan returned, it too would suffer a similar fate: gradually, people's rights and freedoms would be eroded by the conservative elements of mainland security interests. The central government may have given its backing to Mr Tung, but it is clear that senior officials are worried about their Taiwan strategy. The head of the Taiwan Affairs Office has again said the central government would never send troops to the island. In addition, he offered to form a free-trade zone with Taiwan. Mainland officials are right to be worried. Hong Kong's Article 23 debacle gives Taiwanese compatriots a clear message: they should keep their status quo. To really win Taiwanese hearts and minds, mainland officials and the Tung administration should review Article 23 and its necessity. In addition, they should examine their own phobia and ask themselves how insurgents could ever realistically use capitalist Hong Kong to overthrow a Chinese government that is arguably the most capitalist anywhere in the world. If mainland officials are serious about 'one country, two systems', they should reconsider Article 23 and allow free, direct legislative elections in Hong Kong as soon as possible. They should also allow Hong Kong people to directly elect their chief executive by 2007. There is only one way to win back Taiwanese interests in 'one country, two systems' and that is to initiate direct elections in Hong Kong.