Taiwan offers help for Hong Kong protesters seeking sanctuary

Taiwan offers help for Hong Kong protesters seeking sanctuary Taiwan offers help for Hong Kong protesters seeking sanctuary

The government of Taiwanese president, Tsai Ing-wen, says it would provide assistance to protesters, who are seeking sanctuary after fleeing to the self-ruled island, due to their involvement, earlier this month, in the occupation of the Hong Kong parliament.

In a controversial move, which is most likely to infuriate China, Taipei said in a statement on Friday that it “can provide necessary assistance to Hong Kong residents whose safety and freedom are in urgent danger due to political reasons.”

Over 30 Hong Kong residents have arrived in Taiwan in a bid to escape prosecution for their involvement in violent protests, which led to the ransacking of the city’s legislature on July 1.

Taiwan's president Ing-wen added her support for such a move.

Tsai, who is seeking a second term in office after the forthcoming election in January, also expressed support for the move.

"These friends from Hong Kong will be treated in an appropriate way on humanitarian grounds," she said during a visit to the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.

She was scheduled to spend two nights in the United States during her trip, from July 11 to 22, to visit Taiwan’s few remaining diplomatic allies in the Caribbean.

Hong Kong has been the scene of violent protests for weeks, over an amendment to the city’s law, which would have allowed extradition to mainland China.

Hong Kong Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, was eventually forced to back down, saying earlier this month that the bill was “dead.”

The protesters, however, continued their angry protests with more demands including Lam’s resignation.

Early this month, thousands of protesters occupied the city’s parliament. Police regained control of the assembly and the government promised the prosecution of the rioters.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” deal that guarantees it a level of autonomy, including a separate and independent legal system.

China also sees Taiwan as a wayward province under the globally-recognized “One China” policy.

The policy refers to the diplomatic acknowledgement that there is only one state called China, despite the existence of two governments; one in China and another on the island of Taiwan.

Ties with Beijing have soured since she came to power in 2016; her party refuses to recognise the idea that Taiwan is part of "one China".

China has pursued reunification with Taiwan ever since the island broke away from the mainland during a civil war in 1949. It claims full sovereignty over the island and almost all world countries, including the US, recognize that sovereignty.

Under President Donald Trump, Washington has, however, increasingly embraced Taiwan. Since he took office in January 2017, Washington has opened a new de facto embassy in Taipei and passed a law to encourage senior US officials to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts.

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