Wed, Sep 04, 2019 - Page 13 News List

United we stand

Hongkongers, Tibetans and Uighurs are set to march against Beijing’s oppression at this year’s UN For Taiwan/Keep Taiwan Free rally

By Chris Fuchs  /  Contributing reporter in New York

A mockup of a bike ad that will be running in connection with the UN For Taiwan/Keep Taiwan Free rally that will take place in New York on Saturday.

Photo courtesy of UN for Taiwan/Keep Taiwan Free

The vitriol poured in not long after Frances Hui’s (許穎婷) college newspaper in April published a column that she wrote entitled, “I am from Hong Kong, not China.”

“Your parents should be ashamed of you, they should have slapped you in your face,” one Chinese international student wrote in a public Facebook post, according to Hui, a 19-year-old student at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.

As timing would have it, Hui’s piece came out before protests began to boil over in Hong Kong over a controversial bill to allow extradition from the former British colony to mainland China, a move panned by critics as a further erosion of civil liberties in the territory.

In recent months, Hui has been busy organizing rallies in the Boston area in support of Hong Kong — and she is also set to be one of the speakers at this year’s UN For Taiwan/Keep Taiwan Free rally in New York City, slated for Saturday.

“I think Taiwan [has] become a role model for people from Hong Kong,” Hui said in an interview.

But she added that the protests over the proposed legislation are also a lesson to Taiwanese not to accept the “one country, two systems” formula applied to Hong Kong after it was returned to China in 1997.

“The things that [Hong Kong] is facing right now would be something that Taiwan would have to face in the future,” Hui said.

ALLIED FORCES

The UN For Taiwan/Keep Taiwan Free rally, an annual staple for nearly three decades, has typically come as the UN General Assembly kicks off its regular session, which begins each year on the third Tuesday of September.

The march and rally in Manhattan have focused on building support for Taiwan’s membership in the UN, which gave the country’s seat to China in 1971, as well as bringing attention to Beijing’s efforts to shrink Taiwan’s space in the international community.

This year’s event will highlight what organizers call the egregious use of force against protesters in Hong Kong, as well as what a US Defense Department official in May termed as the mass imprisonment of Chinese Muslims in concentration camps in China’s Xinjiang region, a claim Beijing has denied.

Organizers said they’re working toward a heavier focus on standing in solidarity with their allied communities, but will also echo the three appeals made by Taiwan’s government for participation in the UN.

Keep Taiwan Free co-organizer Gloria Hu (胡慧中) said they expect around 400 to 500 people to attend this year’s rally. She added that the Hong Kong protests were a factor in bumping up the date to early September.

“We just really want to showcase the intergenerational nature of the struggle of Taiwanese people, as well as Hongkongers, Tibetans and Uighurs for recognition, and to call attention to how these groups have been marginalized by the Chinese Communist Party,” Hu said.

PROTESTS, COUNTER-PROTESTS

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Hui came to the US at the age of 16 to begin college and study journalism. She transferred to Emerson after completing two years at a community college in Seattle.

Hui said she decided to write her essay for The Berkeley Beacon, Emerson College’s student paper, after an Asian man approached her on a bus one day and asked where she was from and if she was Chinese.

Conversing in English, she responded that she was from Hong Kong, to which the man kept telling Hui that Hong Kong is a part of China and that she was Chinese.

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