CNA: Taipei, July 1 - 2007-07-01 18:53:46 - Taiwan blasted Hong Kong Sunday for refusing entry to several groups of Falun Gong members from Taiwan, accusing the territory of violating democratic rules and infringing upon freedom of assembly and religious rights.
Executive Yuan spokesman Shieh Jyh-wei made the criticism on the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule after more than 100 Taiwanese Falun Gong followers, with valid entry visas issued by Hong Kong authorities, were turned back at Hong Kong airport in recent days. "It is a deplorable development, which reflects China's ignorance of the freedoms of religion, assembly and the media, " Shieh said, adding that it also serves as a warning to those who agree with the so-called "one China, respective interpretations" and "eventual unification" schemes, which run contrary to democratic principles and human rights values." "Taiwan cannot accept Hong Kong's uncouth and rude treatment of Taiwanese citizens. Beijing's dictatorship will only further drive away the Taiwanese people, and encourage Taiwan to cherish all the more its hard-earned democracy and freedom," he said.
Speaking at a news conference organized by Taiwan's Falun Gong Movement, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Vice Chairman Tung Cheng-yuan said Beijing's promise of "a high degree of autonomy" to Hong Kongers was a lie, and that the former British colony has suffered noticeable setbacks on the economic and social fronts.
According to Tung, more than 70 percent of people in Hong Kong want direct elections for executive chiefs and parliamentary members, but Beijing turned down their call in 2004.
On the social front, the wealth gap in Hong Kong has grown since 1997, while social mobility has declined with the starting monthly salary of university graduates falling from more than US$1,800 in 1997 to about US$1,400 last year, he pointed out.
At the same time, Hong Kong's judicial independence, human rights conditions and media freedom have also been impacted, Tung said. He then lodged a strong protest against the recent deportations of Taiwanese citizens with valid entry visas. "These Taiwanese people were brutally detained, questioned and deported by the Hong Kong authorities, " Tung said, adding, "Taiwan has to issue the severest condemnation against such human rights violations by the Hong Kong authorities."
(By Flor Wang)