China Lashes Out at Taiwan for HK Offer08/19 06:10
HONG KONG (AP) -- China lashed out at Taiwan on Monday over its offer of
political asylum to participants in Hong Kong's pro-democracy protest movement,
a day after hundreds of thousands of people marched peacefully in the latest
massive demonstration in the Chinese territory.
The government of Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China considers its own
territory, strongly supports the protests, and Hong Kong students in Taiwan
held events over the weekend expressing their backing. Taiwan's president made
the asylum offer last month, though it's not clear if requests have been
Taiwan lacks a formal legal mechanism for assessing and granting asylum
requests, although it has granted residency to several vocal opponents of the
On Monday, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Chinese Cabinet's Taiwan Affairs
Office, said Taiwan's offer would "cover up the crimes of a small group of
violent militants" and encourage their "audacity in harming Hong Kong and turn
Taiwan into a "heaven for ducking the law."
Ma demanded that Taiwan's government "cease undermining the rule of law" in
Hong Kong, cease interfering in its affairs and not "condone criminals."
Organizers said at least 1.7 million people participated in Sunday's Hong
Kong rally and march, although the police estimate was far lower. Police said
the protest was "generally peaceful" but accused a large group of people of
"breaching public peace" afterward by occupying a major thoroughfare and using
slingshots to shoot "hard objects" at government headquarters and pointing
lasers at police officers.
The protests have at times been marked by violent clashes with police, who
say they have arrested more than 700 participants since the demonstrations
started in June. However, law enforcement officers kept a low profile Sunday,
with no riot police seen from the procession's main routes. When stragglers
convened outside a government complex in the late evening, other protesters
urged them to go home.
More protests are planned for the coming weeks, with various rallies
organized by accountants, transport workers, high school students and relatives
of police officers.
Demonstrators' frustrations over what they perceive to be the government's
refusal to respond to their demands boiled over last week with the occupation
of Hong Kong's international airport, during which a reporter for a Chinese
Communist Party-owned newspaper was assaulted, and attacks on a number of
A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to Beijing in 1997 under the
framework of "one country, two systems," which promised residents certain
democratic rights not afforded to people in mainland China. But some Hong
Kongers have accused the Communist Party-ruled central government of eroding
their freedoms in recent years.
The protest movement's demands include the resignation of Hong Kong leader
Carrie Lam, democratic elections and an independent investigation into police
use of force.
Asked Sunday about the situation in Hong Kong, U.S. President Donald Trump
said the use of Chinese troops to put down the protests --- similar to the
bloody crackdown on protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989 --- would
worsen the current U.S.-China trade dispute.
"I mean if it's another Tiananmen Square, I think it's a very hard thing to
do if there is violence," Trump told reporters in New Jersey. "I think there'd
be tremendous political sentiment not to do something."
Trump had originally said the protests were a matter for China to handle but
has since suggested that Chinese President Xi Jinping could resolve the
situation by meeting with protest leaders.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang avoided commenting on Trump's
remarks directly, but referred to the president's previous statements on the
"We have noticed that President Trump has previously stated that Hong Kong
is part of China, and that they must solve it themselves and do not need
advice. We hope that the U.S. side can match its acts to its words," Geng told
reporters at a daily briefing.
China has furiously rejected all outside calls for it to discuss protesters'
Members of China's paramilitary People's Armed Police force have been
training for days across the border in Shenzhen, including on Sunday morning,
fueling speculation that they could be sent in to suppress the protests. The
Hong Kong police, however, have said they are capable of handling the