Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen expressed concern on Friday over Hong Kong’s decision to ban protesters from wearing masks, urging the city’s authorities to address the public’s demands.
“The priority for the Hong Kong authorities should be to engage in sincere dialogue with the Hong Kong public and give a concrete response to the Hong Kong people’s desire for freedom and democracy, instead of further limiting their liberty,” Tsai’s office said in a statement, adding that greater suppression would only fuel more clashes.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s embattled administration announced the mask ban earlier in the day after months of anti-government protests.
The social unrest was originally prompted by an extradition law amendment that would have allowed suspects to be sent to Taiwan and the mainland – places with which the city does not have an extradition agreement. The bill was proposed in response to the murder of a Hong Kong woman in Taiwan by her Hong Kong boyfriend.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which handles the island’s relations with mainland China, advised its citizens to be alert to the restrictions if they visited the city.
In a statement, the council also called on the Hong Kong administration to avoid measures that would further worsen confrontation in society.
The extradition bill debacle has also surfaced in Taiwan’s presidential race, with Tsai and her challengers citing it as an example of why Beijing’s solution for unification – the “one country, two systems” approach implemented in Hong Kong – does not work.
Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang (KMT), said the mask ban offered no real solution to Hong Kong’s situation.
KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu also called on the Hong Kong government to respect people’s freedom of speech and assembly, adding developments in the city were very worrying.
This article Listen to the people, Taiwan’s president urges Hong Kong authorities on eve of mask ban first appeared on South China Morning Post