Political groups in Taiwan have been rallying for a ban on leading members of the Hong Kong police force as well as officials from the city’s government from entering the country.
The proposed ban stems from alleged police brutality and the disproportional use of weapons in multiple incidents where young demonstrators were shot with live rounds or severely injured in clashes with police under a hail of rubber bullets and bean bag rounds.
Members of the Taiwan Solidarity Union, a pro-independence party, rallied and petitioned the office of the island’s National Immigration Agency earlier this week, calling for Hong Kong security officials and senior police officers as well as their spouses and children to be barred from entering Taiwan. Activists set fire to Chinese and Hong Kong flags while staging their rally.
The organization issued the call amid rumors that some Hong Kong policemen were considering emigrating to the island with their families.
Activists in Taiwan who support the Hong Kong protesters said they were outraged by the recent revelations about Hong Kong police attacking protesters.
Several lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party were also mulling a new bill to grant asylum to Hong Kong protesters who make a beeline for the island to flee prosecution as well as more restrictions against Hong Kong officials in immigration and investment, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.
A total of 2,379 protesters – more than one-third of them minors under the age of 18 – have been arrested in Hong Kong since June 12, when protests erupted over a proposed China extradition bill after the city’s government brushed aside calls for the bill’s withdrawal.
A proposed list of those who would be banned includes Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security John Lee, Commissioner of the Police Stephen Lo, all deputy commissioners as well as several British nationals who head police regions. The Police Tactical Unit and the Special Tactical Contingent, which are the ace police squads tackling the recent spate of violent protests and which have been on the receiving end of complaints of alleged excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests and even sexual assaults against detainees, were also listed.
Taiwan’s immigration agency stressed its set of stringent rules in adjudicating applications to deny entry to those who pose threats to Taiwan’s national interests, public order and safety.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act was passed by the House of Representatives in a unanimous voice vote on Tuesday. The act, which must now be passed by the Senate and signed off by the president before becoming law, also contains a clause on freezing assets and denying visas to Hong Kong officials the US says smothered rights and freedoms in the former British territory.
This is on top of the bill’s main thrust of requiring the US to certify each year that Hong Kong retains its autonomy and keep the special treatment by the US, which is different from China.
The bill will need to be passed by the Senate before President Trump signs it into law or vetos it.
Some senior police in Hong Kong are allegedly concerned by the new bill, as they fear more red tape when emigrating overseas and worry their children may not be allowed to study at universities in the US.
One example was John Tse, a chief superintendent overseeing the Police Public Relations Branch who acted as a police spokesperson at daily press conferences, defending the force’s controversial handling of the protests. It has been reported that Tse’s wife holds a US green card and the family had also been filing applications to emigrate to the US over the past few months.
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong said he had lodged a complaint with some US congressmen in a bid to block Tse’s application.
Hong Kong’s government on Wednesday expressed regret over the passage of the act, stressing in a statement that police had been exercising restraint when enforcing the law and that foreign legislatures should not interfere in the internal affairs of the city.