Photo/IllutrationTaiwanese protesters gather on June 16 in front of the Legislative Yuan building in Taipei in solidarity with citizens of Hong Kong against amendments to an extradition law. (Hideshi Nishimoto)

  • Photo/Illustraion

TAIPEI--Concerns are growing here that the turmoil Hong Kong has been thrown into over controversial extradition legislation may be a reflection of things to come.

Protesters hit the streets here on June 16 in an expression of solidarity with millions of marchers who filled the streets of Hong Kong the same day in large-scale protests now in their second week.

Passage of the extradition legislation would allow authorities to send some suspects to China, where opponents worry they may face torture and unfair trials.

Several hundred protesters gathered in front of the Legislative Yuan building in Taipei, reflecting a deepened concern among Taiwanese that "today's Hong Kong will be tomorrow's Taiwan," a key phrase of the rally.

Office worker Liu Bo-jing, 30, who attended the protest with his friends, said: "China's next target is Taiwan. I worry about being caught up in this."

The slogan originates in a 2014 "Sunflower Student Movement" in Taiwan, during which activists occupied the Legislative Yuan and government facilities in protest of the Ma Ying-jeou government, led by the China-friendly Kuomintang (Nationalist Party).

Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a speech in January that he would not rule out the use of force for reunification with Taiwan and proposed a "one country, two systems" principle to the region.

With presidential elections set for next January in Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen said on June 10, the second day of protests in Hong Kong, "If we were to accept such a system, we would lose our freedom, democracy and human rights."

Tsai, who is seeking to stay in office, has made efforts to expand support by using such fundamental concerns among Taiwanese as a springboard.

Meanwhile, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu, who is seen as a strong candidate of the opposition Kuomintang, has called for improved ties with China. He recently met in March with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

When asked by Taiwan media about the crisis in Hong Kong, Han responded simply, "I don't know," generating criticism from Taiwan citizens.

Under fire in Hong Kong, Lam suspended efforts to enact the extradition bill on June 15.