National People's Congress 2020: Reactions from Taiwan

Taipei will offer rescue plan to Hong Kongers, 'not give up' on territory

Taipei will launch a humanitarian programme providing assistance to Hong Kongers who decide to come to Taiwan following Beijing's approval of a proposal for new national security legislation in Hong Kong.

The programme, to be funded by the Taiwanese government, will focus on providing legal residency, accommodation, and physical and mental care for Hong Kongers who may wish to move to Taiwan, Mr Chen Ming-tong, who heads the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), said yesterday.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announced on Wednesday that the self-ruled island would offer a rescue action plan for Hong Kong.

Taiwan, which China sees as a renegade province, deals with Hong Kong and Macau under rules that allow residents of the two Chinese cities to invest in Taiwan much more easily than mainland Chinese.

The resolution to craft the national security law, approved yesterday by China's National People's Congress, will allow Chinese authorities to directly deal with acts in Hong Kong aimed at toppling the state.

In response to the Tsai administration's plans, China's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang warned the Democratic Progressive Party to not "loot a burning house" and stir things up.

In a briefing to Taiwan's Parliament, after a discussion with Premier Su Tseng-chang, Mr Chen said the programme will be headed and funded by the government. "The government will not give up on Hong Kong. In facing changes in the future, there will be continued and well-rounded rescue work in which Hong Kongers are provided help."

Ms Tsai had said over the weekend that should the security law be implemented, her administration would consider invoking Article 60 of the Laws and Regulations Regarding Hong Kong and Macau Affairs to ensure Taiwan's national security and interests remain protected in Taiwan's close ties with Hong Kong. The article allows Taiwan to revoke part or all of the Act, if Taiwan's security is endangered.

Hong Kongers in Taiwan and opposition parties had expressed concern over Ms Tsai's post, though the MAC said on Monday that the President's statement was a warning to Chinese authorities.

Some 24 civic groups gathered on Wednesday and yesterday, calling for the need for a fully-fledged asylum system.

The number of Hong Kongers granted residence in Taiwan jumped 40 per cent last year, with 5,858 receiving residence rights, up from 4,148 in 2018.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2020, with the headline 'Taipei will offer rescue plan to Hong Kongers, 'not give up' on territory'. Print Edition | Subscribe