China has warned Taiwan against interfering in its affairs after the Taiwanese government offered asylum to pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
Taiwan is a self-ruled island which China considers its own territory under its “One China Principle”.
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 Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Chinese Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said on Aug. 19.
Ma demanded that Taiwan’s government “cease undermining the rule of law” in Hong Kong, cease interfering in China’s affairs and not “condone criminals.”
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen made the asylum offer last month, though it’s not clear if requests have been received, The Associated Press reported.
“I believe relevant departments are keeping abreast of the situation,” Tsai was quoted as saying by Taiwan’s Central News Agency. “These friends from Hong Kong will be treated in an appropriate way on humanitarian grounds.”
The AP report noted that “Taiwan lacks a formal legal mechanism for assessing and granting asylum requests, although it has granted residency to several vocal opponents of the Chinese government.”
Taiwan strongly supports the pro-democracy protests, and Hong Kong students in Taiwan held events over the weekend expressing their support.
Organizers said at least 1.7 million people participated in Sunday’s peaceful protest in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong police say they have arrested more than 700 participants since the demonstrations started in June.
Asked on Aug. 18 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 supreme leader 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 protests.
“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.