09/23/2021, 15.32
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Hong Kong: Taipei's national holiday threatens national security

Could be considered a "secessionist" act. Risk of life imprisonment for those who fly the Taiwanese flag. Security Secretary: To be assessed on a case-by-case basis based on "intent"; "dark forces" have yet to be fully eradicated. Tension between Beijing and Taiwan over entry into CPTPP trade bloc.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Hong Kongers who celebrate Taiwan's national holiday risk violating the national security law according to the Territory’s Security Secretary Chris Tang. His statements carried in the Singtao Daily and the South China Morning Post reveal that Carrie Lam's executive, could consider the celebrations “secessionist" acts.

"Double 10 Day" falls on October 10. It commemorates the 1911 Wuchang uprising, which then led to the fall of the Chinese Empire and the following year to the birth of the Republic of China, of which Taiwan is the de facto heir.

Beijing maintains that the island is a "rebel province", and has never ruled out reconquering it by force. Taipei has essentially been independent from China since 1949; at that time Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists found refuge there after losing the civil war on the mainland to the Communists.

In the interview Tang explains that anyone who attempts to "separate" Taiwan from China or incites others to do the same risks arrest and life imprisonment.

Hong Kong celebrations of the Taiwanese holiday date back to the days of British colonial rule, which ended in 1997 with the city's return to the sovereignty of Communist China. Asked whether, in keeping with tradition, Taipei's national flag will be allowed to be flown and slogans chanted, Tang said authorities will deal with the issue on a case-by-case basis. The city's security czar stressed that those who celebrate the holiday without having secessionist "intentions" will not be prosecuted.

Hong Kong adopted the security law in June 2020 at Beijing's orders. In addition to secessionist activities, it also punishes crimes of subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces.

So far under the measure police have arrested 153 people, including Catholic media mogul Jimmy Lai; judges have indicted 95, with the first conviction in July.

However, Tang maintains that the "dark forces" that sow hatred toward the government have yet to be "eradicated" completely.

The security secretary's statements come at a time of high tension between China and Taiwan. Yesterday Taipei has applied for entry into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the free trade agreement heir to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) wanted by former U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Taiwanese request follows the Chinese one, delivered on September 16. The eventual acceptance of Beijing in the trade mega-bloc would torpedo the possibilities of the island’s participation. Negotiators in Taipei are confident, however; they point out that the opaque and dirigist nature of China's economic system is not in line with CPTPP norms and standards. In contrast, the island has a vibrant free market, with transparent policies and rule of law.

After Trump's withdrawal in 2017, Japan, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam are members of CPTPP. At the end of the month, the group will open negotiations for Britain's membership.

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