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Taiwan’s ruling party urges Beijing to respect Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations

Taiwan’s independence-leaning ruling party on Wednesday called on Beijing’s leaders to listen to the democratic aspirations of people in Hong Kong and to respect the rights of pro-independence representatives.

The yellow logo of Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Movement” featured on the Democratic Progressive Party’s Facebook page on Wednesday as its spokesman Yang Chia-liang urged the Beijing and Hong Kong governments to respect and protect legislators’ interests.

“It’s worrying if the appointment of legislators is deprived under the name of country, which will impact to Hong Kong’s hard-won democratic and judicial independence,” Yang said.

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Beijing’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, had on Monday issued an interpretation of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, or Basic Law, which effectively barred two pro-independence lawmakers from taking their oaths of office.

The move marked Beijing’s most direct intervention in the city’s legal and political system since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule under a “one country, two systems” agreement that ensured its freedoms, including a separate legal system. Beijing, however, has ultimate control and some Hong Kong people fear it is increasingly interfering to head off dissent.

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“The government of Beijing and Hong Kong should listen to the aspirations of the people of Hong Kong eager to practice democracy,” Yang said.

He added that the DPP and the people of Taiwan were paying close attention to how Beijing handled “the problem in Hong Kong” and supported the right of Hong Kong people to choose their representatives by democratic means.

The DPP’s comments are bound to rile Beijing, which deems Taiwan a wayward province that is part of the mainland and to be taken back by force if necessary.

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Beijing stopped official communication with self-ruled Taiwan after the DPP’s leader, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, refused to acknowledge the “one China” principle.

The principle is an understanding struck in 1992 between Beijing and Taiwan’s then ruling Kuomintang that there is only “one China”, but that each side would have its own interpretation of what constitutes “China”.