AP Interview: Taiwan may help if Hong Kong violence expands

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan’s top diplomat said Tuesday that his government stands with Hong Kong citizens pushing for “freedom and democracy,” and would help those displaced from the semi-autonomous Chinese city if Beijing intervenes with greater force to quell the protests.

Speaking to The Associated Press in Taipei, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu was careful to say his government has no desire to intervene in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, and that existing legislation is sufficient to deal with a relatively small number of Hong Kong students or others seeking to reside in Taiwan.

But he added that Hong Kong police have responded with “disproportionate force” to the protests. He said that any intervention by mainland Chinese forces would be “a new level of violence” that would prompt Taiwan to take a different stance in helping those seeking to leave Hong Kong.

“When that happens, Taiwan is going to work with the international community to provide necessary assistance to those who are displaced by the violence there,” he said.

A second term for Tsai would see a continuation of Taiwan’s tough stance against its much larger neighbor.

“If President Tsai is reelected, we’ll continue to … maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. We’ll continue to send out goodwill gestures to China,” Wu said. “We want to make sure that the Chinese have no excuse in launching a war against Taiwan.”

But he said Taiwan enjoys “strong bipartisan support” in Washington and is not concerned that its status with the U.S. could be used as a bargaining chip in the trade negotiations.

“We are being assured … by very senior Trump administration officials that their relations with Taiwan is independent of relations with any other country and to the United States, Taiwan is a very important partner,” he said.

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