Taipei, March 2 (CNA) A national association of Taiwanese university students on Tuesday called on the government to take concrete action to protect Hong Kong political dissidents after dozens of pro-democracy figures in the semi-autonomous region were charged last weekend under a new Chinese national security law.
In a press conference at the Legislative Yuan, representatives of the National Students' Union of Taiwan issued several demands the government could take to provide substantive assistance to those facing persecution.
The group called on the Legislature to support a proposal by the Taiwan Association for Human Rights to amend Article 60 of the Laws and Regulations Regarding Hong Kong and Macao Affairs.
In its current form, Article 60 authorizes the president to suspend any portion of the law "should any change occur in the situation" in the two autonomous regions that endangers Taiwan's national security.
The proposed amendment, however, would go a step further by requiring the Cabinet to conduct an annual report on the status of human rights and political autonomy in Hong Kong, and to formulate responses to any abuses it uncovers, including potentially banning relevant officials from entering Taiwan.
Meanwhile, the group also called on the government to raise admissions and transfer quotas for students from Hong Kong, and to provide safe channels for Hong Kongers seeking shelter from persecution to come to Taiwan.
Although Article 18 of the law requires the government to provide "necessary assistance" to residents of Hong Kong or Macau facing political persecution, it does not detail what that help should entail and Taiwan does not have a refugee law.
The student group made the demands after 47 pro-democracy activists were charged on Sunday with "conspiracy to commit subversion," in the heaviest use yet of a restrictive national security law that China imposed on Hong Kong last year.
On Monday, student union leaders at the Chinese University of Hong Kong resigned en masse, citing pressure from the university and threats they received after issuing a manifesto last week criticizing the law and vowing to pursue democracy.
At the press conference, Taiwanese political activist Wu Cheng said the charges laid on Sunday -- which targeted people who organized and participated in an informal election primary last July -- had had "a chilling effect" on Hong Kong society.
In the future, there are likely to be even greater numbers of Hong Kongers who will need support and assistance from Taiwan, Wu said, explaining the need for swift government action.