‘Stop meddling’: Beijing accuses Taiwan of hypocrisy over Hong Kong arrests

Beijing has accused Taiwan of “meddling” in the prosecution of 47 opposition activists in Hong Kong, and accused the island’s authorities of plotting to seek independence for the city.

“We are telling [Taiwan’s] Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to stop ... meddling in Hong Kong’s internal affairs and not to continue its erroneous route,” Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for the mainland’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), said in Beijing on Tuesday.

“The remarks by the DPP authorities once again expose their plot to seek independence for Hong Kong and their use of human rights and freedom to cover up their hypocritical nature.”

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Dozens of former opposition lawmakers and activists have been charged with conspiring to subvert state power. Photo: Winson Wong

The TAO took aim at the island’s independence-leaning party for criticism on Sunday over the arrest of opposition activists in Hong Kong. The DPP said the action seriously infringed human rights and personal freedom, and stoked “red terror” in the city.

“The Hong Kong police arrested a large number of opposition figures from the pan-democrat camp on the grounds that they had violated the Hong Kong national security law ... and immediately charged them with sedition,” the DPP said.

“It once again proves that Hong Kong has been turned into another city in China, with no longer any room for ‘one country, two systems’.”

It said the incident showed Hong Kong was directly under the mainland’s rule and all those detained should be released immediately.

In response, Zhu said Hong Kong authorities had the responsibility to act against those who violated the law in the city.

On Monday, 47 Hong Kong opposition activists appeared in court, charged with plotting to subvert state power through an unofficial primary election last July.

The opposition figures, including former lawmakers from the pan-democrat camp, are accused of taking part in a subversive scheme to seize control of the legislature in a bid to paralyse the government and topple the city’s leader, according to a court document.

They were first arrested in January, and charged on Sunday after being told to report earlier than expected to police. All except those already serving jail terms on other charges had previously been granted bail, but they were detained before the hearing.

On Tuesday, dozens of Taiwanese students and their Hong Kong counterparts rallied in front of the island’s Legislative Yuan in a show of support for the detainees.

“Political participation is not a crime,” the supporters shouted, calling on the Hong Kong authorities to release those arrested.

The supporters also asked Taiwan’s legislature to quickly pass a bill to enable Hong Kong students to study and Hongkongers seeking political asylum to go to the island.

Taiwan does not have a political asylum law and people fleeing Hong Kong are processed on a case-by-case basis.

Since the introduction of the national security law in Hong Kong last year, the number of Hong Kong people seeking Taiwanese residency has soared.

According to government statistics, Taiwan issued 10,813 residence permits and 1,576 settlement permits to people from Hong Kong last year, almost double the total for 2019, when 5,858 residence permits and 1,474 settlement permits were issued.

Figures dating back to 2016 hovered around 5,100 residence or settlement permits annually. - South China Morning Post

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