Mainland Affairs Council urges Hong Kongers to enter Taiwan legally

MAC deputy head and spokesperson Chiu Chui-cheng. CNA photo Aug. 27, 2020

TAIPEI (CNA) — People from Hong Kong should follow existing legal channels if they wish to move to Taiwan, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said on Thursday, following a report of Hong Kongers being caught by China’s coast guard while trying to flee to the island in a speed boat.

MAC deputy head and spokesperson Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said that if people from Hong Kong and Macau need to seek Taiwan’s assistance for political reasons, they should follow the existing mechanism under the Laws and Regulations Regarding Hong Kong & Macao Affairs.

Chiu was speaking at a routine press briefing when he was asked to comment on a Radio Free Asia report about a dozen Hong Kong youths being caught by the Chinese authorities while they were in a speed boat heading to Taiwan. The report cited the Chinese Coast Guard’s post on the China-based microblog service Weibo.

According to the report, several of the youngsters have been released on bail after being detained for taking part in protests against a proposed extradition bill last year that was later withdrawn by the Hong Kong government.

Also in response to a reporter’s question, Chiu expressed the Taiwanese government’s concerns about Hong Kong police arresting 16 people, including two opposition members of the territory’s Legislative Council — Lam Cheuk-ting (林卓廷) and Ted Hui Chi-fung (許智峯) — on Wednesday.

Chiu said the authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong should respect the rights of Hong Kong people in their pursuit of freedom, democracy, human rights and rule of law, and resolve the current situation through frank communication with its people.

Protests were ignited in Hong Kong in June 2019 by opposition against the extradition bill, and later evolved into demonstrations demanding for universal suffrage and democracy, including the direct election of Hong Kong’s leader.

In response, Beijing imposed a national security law in Hong Kong at the end of June this year, which led to the arrest of leading pro-democracy figures, such as media tycoon Jimmy Lai (黎智英), founder of the Apple Daily newspaper.