Several political groups in Taiwan, including the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, are planning a mass rally outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei at the end of this month to show solidarity and lift the spirits of Hong Kong protesters.
The plan was made following a recent visit to Taiwan by three prominent Hong Kong activists including Joshua Wong to muster support for the city as demonstrators ramped up their demands in the former British colony.
Organizers expect the assembly will attract at least 10,000 Taiwanese, given the island’s strong pathos towards and affinity with Hong Kong.
The site of the rally – not far from the Presidential Palace – and the date – September 29 – were both deliberately chosen to predate Beijing’s National Day spectacles and military parade on October 1, the 70th anniversary of the Communist regime.
The Taipei event is also seen as an early National Day “gift” for Xi Jinping, when he is expected to emerge above the Tiananmen Gate for the big bash, to remind him that Taiwan stands behind Hong Kong and Taiwanese are watching the state of the city that may foreshadow what will happen to Taiwan if it is brought into Beijing’s fold.
Hong Kong is also likely to see fresh mob-like demonstrations on October 1 despite stepped-up security.
Other than the DPP, organizers of the rally also include the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy, Citizen Front Taiwan, Taiwan National Students’ Union, General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan as well as the Hong Kong Outlanders, an association of Hong Kong emigrates, according to the Liberty Times and Taiwan Central News Agency.
“Under a ‘totalitarian threat,’ the city that used to take pride in the rule of law and personal freedoms is now choked with tear gas, where rubber bullets fly in the streets as police clampdown on protesters, and many officers have become pathological attackers of the citizens they ought to protect,” read a joint statement by the organizers.
It was understood that the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office, the city government’s representative office in Taipei, has been tasked with monitoring the island’s sentiments and collecting the identities of Hongkongers there who may organize or attend rallies or activities in support of protests in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s immigration authority has been responding to and processing a deluge of inquiries and applications from Hong Kong, with a 30% jump in emigration and residency applications filed by Hongkongers during the first eight months this year over the same period a year ago.
The surge since June, the outbreak of the drawn-out protests and unrest in the city triggered by a now-shelved China extradition bill, has been even stronger, when Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency had 55% more applications from Hongkongers than a year earlier. In 2018, 4,148 Hongkongers were granted residency.
Taiwan’s immigration agencies also told the Liberty Times that their promotion events held in Hong Kong since June usually attract far more attendees than before, with the number of consultations and applications being processed soaring by almost two-fold.
In one case, according to an immigration agent, a Hong Kong youngster who frequently took part in recent protesters decided to up stakes, borrow NT$6 million (US$192,550) from his relatives and emigrate to the island.