Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) lawmakers yesterday accused President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of playing politics on Hong Kong and demanded clarification regarding the suspension of the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門關係條例).
Hong Kong faces increased pressure and more severe restrictions after the Chinese government proposed a new national security law to deal with the former British colony.
TPP lawmakers expressed concern about the deteriorating conditions in the territory, saying that Taiwan should help defend Hong Kong’s democracy.
TPP Legislator Lai Hsiang-lin (賴香伶) cited Tsai’s comments about suspending parts or all provisions of the act, telling a news conference in Taipei that “it was a major political message from Tsai to the world.”
“All of Taiwan’s political parties, Hong Kong’s youth protesters and residents, and outsiders closely following the situation are concerned about the possible changes,” Lai said. “President Tsai and Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) should clarify their comments to the international community.”
On Sunday, Tsai on Facebook reiterated the support and attention Taiwan has given to developments in Hong Kong, saying that if Beijing’s bill is enacted, “the core values of Hong Kong’s democratic freedom and judicial independence will be seriously eroded.”
“Article 60 of the act states that if there is a change in Hong Kong’s situation, Taiwan can suspend part or all of the provisions of the act,” Tsai said, adding that in such a case, the Executive Yuan can ask the president to order a suspension.
The act allows for preferential treatment in trade, travel and culture for Hong Kong and Macau.
TPP Legislator Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿) said that if Tsai wants to suspend parts of the act, “what will replace these provisions? How will Taiwan then help Hong Kong people defend democracy?”
Tsai is being evasive and playing politics on the matter, he said.
“Many have expressed concern about the talk of suspending the act’s provisions, some of which govern how regular people enter and exit Taiwan, cultural exchanges, education, business travel and bilateral trade,” Jang said. “Tsai must clearly state whether she wants to punish Hong Kong’s government or its people.”
“The Legislative Yuan must draft amendments to the act to dispense with its current ambiguity and to codify into law ways for Taiwan to support Hong Kong’s people,” he said.
Top Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) figures have also castigated Tsai, saying that by suspending the act, her administration would leave Hong Kong’s people to fend for themselves, going against its promise to support the pro-democracy movement.
During an inspection of armed forces training programs at the Military Police Command Headquarters in Taipei yesterday, Tsai said that “the KMT is wrong on this issue. We will provide a more complete explanation.”
Separately yesterday, a senior national security official said that Tsai’s comments were a warning to China.
“Tsai clearly expressed that Taiwan stands with the people of Hong Kong, just as other democratic nations,” the official said.
“Tsai is calling on Beijing to honor its promise to Hong Kong, to not to worsen the situation and to respect human rights and the democratic society of the territory,” they said. “It is not what the KMT is saying, that we are siding with Beijing and cutting off Hong Kong.”
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