Hong Kongers fleeing city will be welcomed by Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen says

Photo: Facebook/Tsai Ing-wen
Photo: Facebook/Tsai Ing-wen

Taiwan is discussing plans to take in Hong Kongers seeking refuge and will continue to support the city’s fight for democracy, the island’s president Tsai Ing-wen says.

In Facebook post published Wednesday, Tsai said the Executive Yuan, Taiwan’s highest administrative organ, is formulating a “humanitarian aid action project” that will allow Hong Kongers fleeing the city to resettle in Taiwan.

“Just like the rest of the world, we are very concerned about the developing situation in Hong Kong,” Tsai wrote in the post. “We solemnly call on the Chinese government to turn back before it’s too late… and allow Hong Kong society to restore peace and dialogue as soon as possible.”

Tsai’s statement comes amid a looming national security law that Beijing is pushing to implement in Hong Kong. Critics say it could pave the way for a crackdown on the freedom and autonomy that sets the city apart from mainland China. The concerns prompted fresh protests yesterday, with at least 360 arrested during demonstrations in Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.

Beijing’s top legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), overwhelmingly approved the law on Thursday.

Sympathy for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests extends across the strait to Taiwan, which is also fighting Beijing influence and distancing itself from Chinese identity. Tsai, who refuses to acknowledge Beijing’s “one China” policy, has repeatedly voiced support for Hong Kong’s protesters.

Taiwan has long been an attractive destination for Hong Kongers emigrating from the city—the regions are only an hour and a half from each other, and both use traditional Chinese as opposed to the simplified variation on the mainland.

Last year, the number of Hong Kongers who moved to Taiwan exceeded 5,000, a 41% increase from the previous year, Tsai wrote in her post. (Taiwan has no law on refugees that could be applied to protesters seeking asylum.)

“If the situation in Hong Kong worsens, and its autonomy and human rights are further suppressed, we will firmly voice our concerns,” Tsai said, adding that Hong Kong ’s democratic freedom is vital for the region’s stability.

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