Taiwanese Leaders Respond to Hong Kong’s Call for Democracy

Thousands of Hong Kong residents marched on July 1 to observe the 21st anniversary of the territory’s return to China from Britain.

By Joon Kim

Taipei-As demonstrations emerged over Hong Kong on July 1 to hurdle democracy against China, political leaders in Taiwan came together to stalemate Hong Kong in a joint press conference the same day.

Since 2003, the Civil Human Rights Front, a nongovernmental organization based in Hong Kong, would hold annual rallies across the city to celebrate its handover as a sovereignty of Great Britain to China in 1997.

The Front estimated about 50,000 people in attendance, a record lowest total, whereas the police, whose figures are often much lower than that of pro-democracy groups, hadn’t released their count until Sunday evening. This marks a significant drop since the Umbrella Revolution in 2014, a nonviolent resistance which featured umbrellas as symbols against police brutality, in a wave of democratic protests across the city.

Organizers said about 50,000 people attended the protest this year, one of the lowest totals since the march was first held in 2003.

Several participants of Sunday’s march, who were interviewed by the New York Times, condemned the government’s “withering” ability to preserve human rights within borderlines. Ho Siubo, a Hong Kong resident, said that the youth should be educated to learn about society. “No matter which side, they need to know what happened,” he said. Catherine Lai, another demonstrator, told the Times that the government is giving its citizens, in one word, “helplessness.” Ms. Lai also said that citizens deserve universal suffrage, and that the government give a couple trials “before they say it does not work.”

Meanwhile, the International Monitor of Hong Kong Civil and Political Rights, a committee led by Leung Man-to (梁文韜), a professor of political science at National Cheng Kung University, published its first report on China’s involvement with Hong Kong’s government. The committee was designed to link a political, religious, academic, and journalistic network of citizens in both Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Several smaller Taiwan political parties and Hong Kong pro-democracy activists are uniting in their criticism of China.

Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強), a human rights lawyer based in Taiwan, gave a brief of the committee’s goals: to stop China from prosecuting and oppressing political activism; to call for the immediate release of political prisoners; to support Hong Kong’s democracy and its citizens’ human rights, and; to ask the international community to oversee the city’s political status, and to sanction its government if necessary.

Sunday’s press conference included representatives of Taiwan’s Green Party, New Power Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, and the Racial Party, as well as Hong Kong’s Nationalist Party.

In the press conference, several other minor Taiwanese politicians vocalized concern over Hong Kong’s growing favor towards mainland China. Andy Chan (陳浩天), a convener for the Hong Kong Nationalist Party, expressed similarities between Hong Kong and former Taiwan’s loss of human rights. Mr. Chan, who was taken off the city’s Legislative Council in 2016, lashed in, calling China “an evil and mighty communist regime.”

Lee Chao-li (李兆立), spokesperson for the New Power Party, said that Beijing is trying to “destroy” Hong Kong by “bullying” its citizens’ autonomic lifestyle. “Its promise of maintaining the ‘status quo’ must not be trusted,” Mr. Lee added.

“Beijing’s promise of maintaining the ‘status quo’ must not be trusted,” Lee Chaoli said.