Hong Kong and Taiwan lawmakers deny colluding over political independence at conference besieged by protests

Desire for democracy and social justice stressed at event after Beijing warns that any move to go it alone is ‘destined to fail’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 January, 2017, 6:59pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 9:36am

Lawmakers from Hong Kong and Taiwan said their common ground was a desire for democracy and social justice, not “collusion for political independence” as Beijing had suggested.

Hong Kong lawmakers Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Edward Yiu Chung-yim, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and three legislators from Taiwan’s New Power Party made the appeal at a conference in Taipei on Sunday.

It came after a spokesman from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on December 28 described the two-day event as “an attempt made by Taiwan’s independence forces to collude with Hong Kong’s independence advocates”, and that such actions were “destined to fail” and those involved would get “their heads broken and covered with blood”.

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The conference was besieged by pro-China protesters who at times turned violent. And upon arriving in Taiwan on Saturday, student activist leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung was almost assaulted at the airport. He was hurried to a waiting vehicle by police officers.

 

Wong described it as “very strange” that their detractors knew the flight they were on and the hotel they were staying in.

“But that will not stop our exchanges with Taiwan since we both face the same China factor, and we hope [China] would understand that exchange of ideas between democratically elected lawmakers is perfectly normal,” Wong said.

Law said since the attack, Taiwanese police had beefed up protection for the lawmakers while in public places and in transit.

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Huang Kuo-chang, a member of Taiwan’s legislature and chairman of the NPP, which organised the event, urged the national security department to investigate the organising forces behind the protests against Hong Kong independence on the island.

“It is unfortunate that the man in black [man filmed trying to assault Wong at the airport] has come to symbolise the image of China internationally,” NPP lawmaker Hsu Yung-ming said, adding that such publicity would only harm cross-strait relations.

At the conference, the lawmakers discussed the challenges they faced during their transformation from social activists to legislators, and in trying to effect change within the establishment.

While both the Taiwan and Hong Kong lawmakers vowed to form closer bonds, Law said there were no concrete plans for future exchanges between the groups.

“We are still not sure about the outcome of a judicial review now, so it is premature to say how any further cooperation will take shape before that,” he said.

Law said none of the visiting lawmakers had been contacted or approached by the Taiwanese government or the ruling Democratic Progress Party during their trip.