The Mainland Affairs Council has expressed its “regret” over clashes in Hong Kong between pro-democracy activists and police Sunday.

The clashes took place after police began to disperse protesters gathered outside government headquarters to call for universal suffrage to elect the territories top leader.

In a statement issued late yesterday, the council urged the two sides to hold peaceful and rational dialogue quickly and said it will continue watching follow-up developments in Hong Kong.

The statement went on to say the Ma administration and the people of Taiwan should support Hong Kongers’ pursuit of universal suffrage as it is in line with the development of time and both sides should seek common ground to advocate democracy in the territory.

Meanwhile, several hundred people joined student organizers from Hong Kong and Macau at a sit-in at Taipei’s Liberty Square last night to showing their support for ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The rally was originally scheduled for Wednesday but was moved to yesterday following the surprise launch of Hong Kong’s Occupy Central protest.

Hong Kong activist Lau Kayee slammed President Ma Ying-jeou for his failure to make any comment on Hong Kong democracy movement, saying Ma should stand firmly behind democratic values as president of the Republic of China.

Exiled Chinese dissidents Wang Dan and Wu’er Kaixi also spoke at Liberty Square in support of Hong Kong’s movement, as did Sunflower movement leaders Lin Fei-fan, Chen Wei-ting and Huang Guo-chang, who expressed their solidarity with the protesters in Hong Kong.

Update — Sep. 29, 10:15 a.m.:

President Ma has called on authorities in Beijing to listen to the demands of the people of Hong Kong and deal with protests calling for universal suffrage in a peaceful manner.

Ma also uthrf the protesters to express their opinions in a rational way, saying his administration does not wish to see further conflict.

Speaking at the annual general meeting of the World Taiwan Chamber of Commerce, Ma said his government and the people of Taiwan are concerned about the situation in Hong Kong and fully support the Hong Kong people’s calls for universal suffrage.

According to Ma, Hong Kong is an important global financial center, and political unrest will impact both Asia and the world.

Ma went on to call on Chinese authorities to listen to the voice of Hong Kong’s people, saying he hopes the territory can move in a peaceful democratic direction.

Student activists are protesting in the lobby of the building that houses the offices Hong Kong’s Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei in response to yesterday’s crackdown on democracy protesters in the former British territory.

Members of the student-led protest movements began a sit-in outside the office yesterday and remained there overnight.

Student leaders say they are showing their solidarity with the people of Hong Kong and protesting the Hong Kong government’s crackdown on protesters calling for universal suffrage and the right to directly elect the territory’s leaders.

Speaking to reporters, organizers of the protest called on the Ma administration to immediately cease all cross-strait negotiations with Beijing including the establishment of reciprocal offices.

Interior Minister Chen Wei-zen says while the government respects people’s rights to express their views, he hopes the student protesters will remain peaceful and rational – and comply with the rule of law.

Update — Sep. 29, 1:15 p.m.:

Premier Jiang Yi-huah says Taiwan has “a high degree of support” for the fight by Hong Kong citizens for the right to elect their own leader.

Speaking to lawmakers, Jiang says the Republic of China government welcomes the push toward universal suffrage.

He said the Taiwan government is watching the protests in Hong Kong closely and hopes that a resolution can be reached peacefully.

He also confirmed that Taipei has conveyed its stance on the issue to Beijing and has called on mainland and Hong Kong authorities to respect Hong Kong citizens’ desire for democracy, which he said is an irreversible trend around the world.

Update — Sep. 29, 4:45 p.m.:

Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai has urged Beijing to win the hearts and minds of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait in a civil manner.

Speaking to the press after a cultural event in Taipei, Lung says the right to vote and stand for election, and the right to live in an open society, is not only the pursuit of the Hong Kong people, but that of the Taiwanese and Chinese.

She says she hope the Beijing government will hear the Hong Kong people’s voice and not mistake their demonstrations as “the longings and pursuits of only a handful of people.”


image via Pasu Au Yeung