Tsai urges Hong Kong government to hold dialogue with protesters
"The extradition bill raises concerns about the possible infringement of human rights, so we hope the Hong Kong government will treat protesters' appeals more seriously and start a dialogue with its people, instead of trying to ram through the bill in haste," Tsai said at a press conference at the Presidential Office.
The people of Hong Kong have the right to pursue freedom and democracy and choose their preferred way of life and government system, Tsai said. "As a bastion of democracy in Asia, we will forever support these universal values."
The press conference came just one day after Hong Kong police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a large crowd of demonstrators protesting outside the territory's government buildings against the extradition bill, which, if passed, would allow the Hong Kong authorities to extradite criminal suspects to the Greater China area, which includes China, Taiwan and Macau.
Due to the scale of Wednesday's protests, Hong Kong lawmakers abruptly postponed their planned review of the bill that day, when they were originally expected to pass the bill's second reading.
A number of Taiwan-based Hong Kong students also delivered a petition to the Presidential Office earlier Thursday, calling on Tsai to take more concrete actions in response to the extradition bill.
Among their proposals were an amendment to Taiwan's laws on the immigration of Hong Kong and Macau residents, subjecting civil servants and police from those areas who have participated in the crackdown on protesters to stricter rules.
Tsai said her government will not accept a bill that also undermines Taiwan's sovereignty, nor will it be an accomplice to what she called a "terrible law."
The president said the controversy over the extradition bill has not only underscored the infeasible nature of China's "one country, two systems" model, but also made Taiwanese appreciate even more the nation's democratic system and way of life.
"As president, it is my utmost duty to safeguard Taiwan's democracy and sovereignty, ensuring that future generations of Taiwanese people will continue to enjoy the right to decide their own future," Tsai said.
Any attempts to undermine the two things Taiwanese hold dear, or use them as political leverage, "will not prevail as long as Tsai Ing-wen is president," she said.