Taiwan president says not ‘using’ Hong Kong protests for election

Asia
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TAIPEI: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday (Dec 10) that she was not “using” the anti-government protests in Hong Kong for electoral purposes, following criticism from her main opponent in next month’s presidential vote and from a Hong Kong student leader.

The protests in the Chinese-controlled city have been widely covered in democratic Taiwan, which China claims as its sacred territory, and are frequently mentioned by Tsai and her ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on the campaign trail as a warning on the potential dangers Taiwan faces from China.

Writing on his Facebook page over the weekend, Keith Fong, president of the Hong Kong Baptist University Students’ Union, said the DPP only verbally supported the protests and had not enacted specific laws to support the protesters.

People would inevitably suspect that the DPP “only wants to exchange Hongkonger’s sacrifices for Taiwanese people’s votes”, he added.

READ: Hong Kong protests – a rising China clashes with frustrated Hong Kong, a commentary

Tsai’s main opponent in the Jan 11 presidential election, Han Kuo-yu from the Kuomintang party which favours close ties with China, wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday that Tsai was using Hong Kong as a “tool” for votes.

Speaking to reporters later on Tuesday, Tsai said that Taiwan had always had a supportive attitude towards the people of Hong Kong taking to the streets to fight for democracy.

What is happening in Hong Kong has also put the people of Taiwan on alert and made them think that the freedom and democratic values Taiwan has must be protected with even greater strength, she added.

“Therefore, when they watch and listen to all the politicians, they pay special attention to the views and determination of these politicians or candidates on these issues,” Tsai said.

“So I do not think we are using Hong Kong people to conduct the election; rather it is a process of self-vigilance by the people of Taiwan after what has happened in Hong Kong.”

Taiwan currently has no law on refugees which could be applied to Hong Kong protesters who may seek asylum on the island though its laws promise to help Hong Kong citizens whose safety and liberty are threatened for political reasons.

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

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