Three prominent Hong Kong activists who are in Taiwan to drum up support have warned that China could clamp down on the former British territory’s protracted protests to stop them continuing after October 1, the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic.
Prominent activist Joshua Wong went to Taiwan this week, having just been released on bail after his high-profile arrest last weekend by Hong Kong police for organizing, inciting and taking part in an unapproved assembly in June, during which thousands laid siege to the police headquarters.
Wong, who shot to fame as the face of defiance against Beijing and Hong Kong’s government during the city’s Umbrella Movement five years ago when people demanded genuine universal suffrage, exhorted the Taiwanese to rally for Hong Kong and show solidarity on or right before October 1. On that day a big military parade will be held as the mainland celebrates its 70th anniversary.
Wong was accompanied by Lester Shum, a student leader in the 2014 movement, and Hong Kong lawmaker Eddie Chu. Earlier this week, the trio paid a visit to the head office of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in Taipei and held an hour-long meeting with DPP members there.
In a stunning about-face, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam deviated from her intransigent stance and announced on Wednesday evening that the contentious China extradition bill, which ignited months-long turmoil in the former British colony, would be officially withdrawn.
But Wong and Chu warned that even though the bill is now gone, Lam was very likely to invoke a colonial-era draconian law with far-reaching powers to impose curfew-like restrictions to ban rallies and cut off the internet, if her move to rescind the bill failed to mollify the people, especially before the October 1 deadline imposed by Beijing.
“Beijing and the Hong Kong government must know that although they can shut down the demonstrations, people in Taiwan and around the world are standing in solidarity with us,” Wong said.
“I feel that Hong Kong and Taiwan are bound together in this struggle, that we are facing oppression by the same authoritarian regime, the same subjugating force from China. We hope to make changes, for Hong Kong to have democracy and freedom in the future and for Taiwan to defend what it has today,” he added.
Meanwhile, the trio also appealed to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to grant political asylum to Hongkongers in need.
In response, a DPP official told reporters in a press conference also attended by the three that if “our friends in Hong Kong” encounter an emergency that would require assistance from Taiwan, the island’s current law “would have the leeway” for that.
The Hong Kong activists also took part in a discussion forum in Taichung. The trio will leave for Germany and the US before returning to Hong Kong on September 23.