Wary of China, Taiwan Offers Support for Street Protesters in Hong Kong

Date: 15 June 2019
By: Ralph Jennings

Taiwanese people gather to support Hong Kong people as the administration prepares to open debate on a highly controversial extradition law, in front of Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Culture Office in Taipei, Taiwan, June 12, 2019.

TAIPEI, TAIWAN — Not long after street demonstrators massed in Hong Kong this week to protest a controversial extradition bill that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial, Taiwan’s president, her ruling party and two of her government ministries voiced emphatic support for the demonstrators.

Taiwanese officials, who normally avoid taking sides in political issues offshore, back the protest’s underlying cause of squelching the expansion of rule by China. Beijing gained control of Hong Kong in 1997 and hopes someday to rule Taiwan the same way, which it calls “one country, two systems.”

Officials in Taipei jumped into the Hong Kong fray to show they’re in tune with China-leery public sentiment at home, especially ahead of elections, analysts say.

“I believe that Taiwanese people, regardless of whether in the majority or minority political camps, will feel increasing dissatisfaction toward the Chinese government’s actions that could be directed at Taiwan,” said Michael Tsai, chairman of the Institute for Taiwan Defense and Strategic Studies in Taiwan.

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