China must keep Hong Kong free, not lead it into 'bigger turmoil': Taiwan

The Chinese flag flutters on Tiananmen Square before the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing on May 21, 2020.
The Chinese flag flutters on Tiananmen Square before the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing on May 21, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI - China must respond sincerely to the needs of the Hong Kong people if it hopes to resolve the city's political issues, Taiwan said on Friday (May 22) as it urged Beijing not to lead the former British colony into "bigger turmoil" with wrong policy decisions.

"(China and the Hong Kong government) should not limit the freedom and democracy of the Hong Kong people," Taiwan's Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang said on Friday morning.

"The root of the solution is to open discussions within the society soon and with candour," he added.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council also said in a statement that China's Communist Party has wrongly blamed external influences and Hong Kong independence "separatists" for the instability in the territory.

The comments come after China announced plans to push a controversial national security law for Hong Kong, which will likely bypass the city's legislature through a rarely used constitutional method.

"In light of the new circumstances and need, the National People's Congress (NPC) is exercising its constitutional power" to establish a new legal framework and enforcement mechanism to safeguard national security in Hong Kong, Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the China's National People's Congress, told a briefing on Thursday.

The move follows months of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which comes under China's "one country, two systems" principle.

According to a draft of the legislation, China's proposed new legislation for Hong Kong would require the territory to quickly finish enacting national security regulations under its mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

China's action could spark fresh protests in Hong Kong, which enjoys many freedoms not allowed on the mainland. The often violent demonstrations in Hong Kong last year plunged the city into its deepest turmoil since it returned to Beijing's rule in 1997.

The plan is also a red flag for Taiwan, as Chinese President Xi Jinping said in January last year that Beijing is determined to rule Taiwan under the "one country, two systems" principle. China considers Taiwan a renegade province that must be united with the mainland, by force if necessary.

"(What China plans on doing) proves that 'one country, two systems' goes against democracy and freedom, which will only fuel our conviction to guard Taiwan's freedom, democracy and sovereignty," said Mr Huang, the presidential office spokesman.

Taiwan's comments come as its relationship with Beijing grows increasingly fraught. 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Friday left out the word "peaceful" in referring to Beijing's desire for "reunification" with the self-governed island, departing from the standard expression Chinese leaders have used for at least four decades when addressing parliament and mentioning Taiwan.

Additional reporting from Reuters