Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday urged Beijing to respect Hong Kong’s special status in international law, in a speech aired live in Denmark.
“By allowing anti-democratic forces and autocrats to advance abroad, we are neglecting our own democratic values,” she said via video to the annual Copenhagen Democracy Summit.
“Taiwan has joined the international community in urging the Beijing authorities to honor their obligation to respect Hong Kong’s fundamental freedoms” she added.
On Thursday China moved closer to passing a controversial national security law for Hong Kong that has raised international concerns it will end the financial hub’s limited freedoms.
Under a “One Country, Two Systems” agreement before Britain handed the territory back to China in 1997, Beijing agreed to let Hong Kong maintain certain liberties and autonomy until 2047 – including legislative and judicial independence and freedom of speech.
In her speech on Friday, the Taiwanese president also took the opportunity to promote her own country as “a vibrant, open, and respectful democracy, and a force for good in the world” which will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Hong Kong.
Her speech came the day after the Taiwan government announced it will open a special office next month to deal with Hong Kongers wanting to move to the island, including those seeking sanctuary for “political reasons”.
Tsai, elected in January for a second mandate, has championed Taiwan as a sovereign state totally independent of Beijing.
China has ramped up fighter flights and warship crossings near Taiwan or through the Taiwan Strait since Tsai was first elected in 2016, as she has refused to acknowledge that the island is part of “one China”.
Taiwan has been ruled separately from China since the end of a civil war in 1949, but under its “One-China” policy, Beijing considers it a part of its territory, with reunification by force an option.
China’s embassy in Copenhagen protested against the Taiwan leader’s participation in the annual event in Copenhagen, as well as that of Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong.
The embassy said in a statement that their participation was “a violation of China’s internal affairs”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also on the list of speakers.