Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou said his support for democracy in Hong Kong will not be at the expense of cross-strait relations.
“If mainland China can practice democracy in Hong Kong or if mainland China itself can become more democratic, then we can shorten the psychological distance between people from the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Ma told the New York Times.
Ma risked antagonizing Beijing – even as he sought further free-trade agreements with the mainland – by expressing support for the Hong Kong protests in a televised speech on Oct. 10, Taiwan’s National Day.
But he was quick to point out that he had been issuing annual statements to mourn the victims of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 and that Beijing had not made those statements an obstacle to improving relations.
He said the protests in Taiwan, involving the temporary seizing of the legislature and the main government office building, had been more violent than the demonstrations in Hong Kong.
“There is absolutely no contradiction, as I support democracy but oppose violence,” Ma said.
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