China slammed Taiwan Monday for offering asylum to Hong Kong people facing prosecution for involvement in anti-government protests, telling the island’s leaders to “stop meddling” in the territory’s affairs.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen voiced support last month for granting asylum to some Hong Kong protesters, with the semi-autonomous financial hub in the midst of an unprecedented political crisis.
Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the Chinese cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, warned Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party to “stop undermining the rule of law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs, and stop indulging criminals in any way”.
Taiwanese authorities “ignore the facts and reverse black and white, not only masking the crimes of a small number of Hong Kong militants but also fuelling their arrogance for destroying Hong Kong”, said Ma.
Last month after dozens of Hong Kong activists reportedly involved in an unprecedented storming of the city’s parliament fled to Taiwan, the Taipei said it would provide assistance to those seeking sanctuary.
“They openly claim to provide (protesters) asylum, making Taiwan into a ‘haven sheltering criminals’, where does this put the safety and welfare of the Taiwan people?” asked Ma.
Beijing regards Taiwan as a part of China awaiting reunification, but the island is a self-ruled democracy.
The protest movement in Hong Kong was sparked by widespread opposition to a plan for allowing extraditions to the Chinese mainland but has since morphed into a broader call for democratic rights.
Taiwan’s history of providing sanctuary to Chinese dissidents has been mixed.
The island still does not recognise the legal concept of asylum but has, on occasions, allowed dissidents to stay on long-term visas.
Ties with Beijing have soured since Tsai came to power in 2016 because her party refuses to recognise the idea that Taiwan is part of “one China”.