Some 30 Hong Kong protesters seeking refuge in Taiwan from possible unfair prosecution –

About 30 protesters who stormed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on July 1 arrived in Taiwan to seek sanctuary, reported Apple Daily on July 18.

They did so to avoid the possibility of unfair prosecution by the Hong Kong government.

They might be followed by 30 more activists.

Hong Kong Free Press had also confirmed the numbers, citing a source with knowledge of the situation.

Most were students

Apple Daily, citing unnamed sources, said most of the activists who left for Taiwan were students.

While some are planning to ask for long-term visas, some others are seeking asylum.

They are staying in various locations.

While some are financing their own rent, others are receiving help from local non-government organisations.

Tsai acknowledged the situation

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, referring to the Hong Kong activists as “friends from Hong Kong”, said on July 19 that Taipei would handle the issue “according to humanitarian principles”, AFP reported Central News Agency as saying.

Tsai made the comments from Saint Lucia, where she was visiting as part of her trip to Taipei’s last remaining diplomatic allies in the Caribbean.

The Taiwanese government has also said on Friday, July 19, that it would provide necessary assistance to Hong Kong citizens seeking to stay in Taiwan.

Increase in entry enquiries from Hongkongers

Chiu Chui-cheng, deputy chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council — the department that oversees relations with China — said the government has received a huge number of queries from Hong Kong citizens regarding entry and residency regulations, according to Financial Times.

Taiwan does not have formal refugee laws but is planning an asylum law.

As compared to other entities or countries, Taiwan’s entry and residency rules for Hongkongers are more lenient.

Taiwan has received other political refugees from Hong Kong before

Central News Agency also said the cases could possibly be handled the same way as other self-proclaimed exiles from Hong Kong, such as Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee.

After disappearing into Chinese custody for about half a year at the end of 2015, he fled to Taiwan in April this year.

Taiwan has extended his visa to late October, reported Radio Taiwan International.

Hong Kong protesters find solidarity in Taiwan

Hong Kong’s large-scale protests against a highly-unpopular extradition law have found solidarity in Taiwan, where many have also felt Beijing’s creeping encroachment over the years.

Beijing’s perceived heavy-handed approach to Hong Kong was seen a reminder to the Taiwanese that “Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow Taiwan”.

Welcoming Hong Kong protesters risks incurring Beijing’s ire

Tsai has mostly avoided any moves that Beijing could take as a deliberate provocation.

China regards Taiwan as its territory, and has not ruled out the use of force to take the self-ruling island under its control.

But she has expressed her support for the Hong Kong protesters, and frequently emphasised Taiwan’s democratic values.

Relations between Taiwan and China have taken a dip after Tsai took office in May 2016.

Tsai has refused to affirm the “1992 Consensus”, which is a mutual agreement that there is only “one China”, although both sides interpret it differently.

Tsai Ing-wen calls for protection to defend Taiwan’s self-rule & way of life from China

She faces fierce competition from Beijing-friendly Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu in the presidency election set to take place in January next year.

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Top image via Kris Cheng/Twitter

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