Beijing’s move shows ‘one country, two systems’ not feasible: Tsai

President Tsai Ing-wen makes the comments before a Chunghwa Telecom event in Taipei Tuesday. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Tuesday expressed dismay over China’s passage of a national security law for Hong Kong, saying Beijing has broken its pledge to Hong Kong to let it maintain a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years.

“I feel extremely disappointed (over the law’s passage), which means China did not keep its promise to Hong Kong,” Tsai said in Taipei.

Beijing’s “broken promise” also showed that the so-called “one country, two systems” model for both Hong Kong and Macau proposed by Chinese government is not feasible in Taiwan, the president said.

Tsai said she hoped people in Hong Kong can continue to fight to maintain their freedoms, democracy and human rights after the law is implemented.

She again pledged Taiwan’s help to Hong Kongers, citing the launch of a special office to help those who want to come to Taiwan.

She was referring to the Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office, which will begin operations Wednesday to provide one-stop services to Hong Kongers who wish to study, do business, make investments, or seek asylum in Taiwan.

Though the office is new, the laws and guidelines related to the services being provided are no more accommodating to people from Hong Kong than they have been in the past.

Tsai made the comments a few hours after the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in China unanimously passed the national security law for Hong Kong. It received all 162 votes in favor, according to Chinese media.

The law will be discussed by Hong Kong’s Basic Law Committee before it is inserted into Annex III of the Basic Law, which could happen as soon as Wednesday, media reports said.

When enacted, the law will prohibit acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and conspiring with foreign influences in the special administrative region and will open the doors there to Chinese security forces.

It is widely seen as an effort by the Chinese government to take full control of Hong Kong after a year of pro-democracy protests there.

“One country, two systems” refers to a constitutional principle formulated by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) during the early 1980s, who suggested that there would be only one China, but distinct Chinese regions such as Hong Kong and Macau could retain their own economic and administrative systems.

Meanwhile, the broken promise Tsai was referring to was the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed by Britain and China in 1984, in which Beijing promised Hong Kong “a high degree of autonomy” for at least 50 years after China resumed control of the territory from United Kingdom in 1997.

Commenting on the law’s passage, Taiwan’s Cabinet and Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) both criticized Beijing, saying the move would seriously affect the development of freedom and human rights in Hong Kong, something Taiwan’s government strongly condemned.