B1 Intermediate US 3050 Folder Collection
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We're on our way to the airport in Taipei, Taiwan.
We got a tip that some protesters, who are fleeing Hong Kong, just landed here.
You O.K.? How do you feel? O.K.
When we find the group, they're exhausted and afraid to talk.
So everyone was arrested last night?
Our situation is quite complicated.
Many things just happened a few hours ago, and we are escaping.
Someone was arrested last night.
Police took his phone.
That's the way they spread fear through us.
They use their phone to pretend he's my friend.
And they take our information.
But they didn't plan the journey alone.
We learned that a secret pipeline, including donors and smugglers, has helped more than 200 protesters escape.
We wanted to trace this covert network from one end to the other because right now, hundreds more are facing serious charges and must make a choice.
Risk spending years in prison or leave home, possibly forever.
Taiwan is a self-ruled and democratic island that Beijing considers to be part of China.
Hong Kong also has a degree of sovereignty that Beijing could strip away.
So, many in Taiwan share a similar perspective with protesting Hong Kongers.
They view China's Communist Party as a threat to their autonomy.
For Hong Kongers fleeing here, it's a friendly destination and a stark departure from the unrest back home.
Unrest that has roiled Hong Kong for months.
Thousands have been arrested.
Nearly one-third of them are younger than 18.
If convicted, they could spend years in prison.
But the tension here goes beyond riots and clashes.
Protesters tell us they have the eerie sense that they're being watched and followed.
How are you?
(Cantonese) I used to go out every day, to every protest.
(Cantonese) But after being arrested twice, I've had more concerns.
At the start of the summer, Ali was a senior in college, about to begin her career as a school teacher.
Then she joined the movement.
There was an incident with the police.
Can you tell me about that?”
(Cantonese) That was when I was arrested.
(Cantonese) In the end, when they gave me the prosecution document, they had charged me with rioting.
What is the penalty for rioting?
(Cantonese) Up to ten years in prison.
(Cantonese) I saw that people went to Taiwan in the past.
(Cantonese) I've thought about that too.
Ali is out on bail, awaiting further legal proceedings, but police confiscated her passport.
Without a passport, how would you be able to get to Taiwan?
(Cantonese) Flying would be risky.
(Cantonese) You could be arrested before you leave the territory.
(Cantonese) So there are other ways like boats...
If she decides to flee, she would need to travel illegally and pay a hefty price.
Some fishermen charge as much as $10,000 USD per person, which is why a big part of the underground network is made up of volunteers who raise money, like this woman.
She may never meet the protesters she's helping, but she's an important link in the chain.
Some of my friends told me that, you know, some of the youngsters planned to leave Hong Kong for a while.
I started to do some fund-raising.
She coordinates through face-to-face meetings and encrypted messages.
For example, this guy.
So this says...
My mother says that I must, you know, give back the money whenever I owe somebody money.
That's code for: I want to contribute money to the cause.
And a lot of them are strangers?
Like, they'll just —”
Yeah, this is the beauty of the Hong Kong people.
In fact, you know, most of the money is coming from my friend's friend's friend.
I did not know them.
She says she has raised over $60,000, which has helped 11 people flee to Taiwan by plane.
Back in Taiwan, we're following the group of protesters who just arrived at the airport.
Their first stop is this church.
(Chinese) Many Hong Kong protestors know our Church.
(Chinese) For these five people, we have already arranged places to stay.
Pastor Huang is a key player in this network that's sympathetic to the movement in Hong Kong.
(Chinese) This is a whole set of things that will that will be sent to Hong Kong.
Many people from Taiwan fled to the U.S. and other parts of the world to escape from government oppression.
So we are willing to help them.
He's saying that people in Taiwan can relate to the plight of Hong Kongers who feel targeted by China.
Like Daniel.
Daniel was part of a group that stormed Hong Kong's Legislative Council building on July 1.
(Cantonese) My protest behavior in Hong Kong was fairly radical.
(Cantonese) We went into the Legislative Council building.
He heard police were identifying participants in the surveillance footage, so he fled.
(Cantonese) I was in a hopeless state back then.
(Cantonese) After I came to Taiwan, the police searched my home [in Hong Kong].
(Cantonese) My case is similar. There was a big effort to collect evidence.
(Cantonese) Every day I sleep for 2 to 3 hours, then I have nightmares.
(Cantonese) The church has arranged for me to see a psychiatrist.
(Cantonese) The church is good.
(Cantonese) They helped us with places to stay.
(Cantonese) So at least that basic need is met.
But they're in a legal no man's land.
The Taiwanese government is treading carefully, presumably to avoid provoking Beijing.
It's allowing protesters to stay on visitors' visas, but has not offered them a path to asylum.
(Cantonese) I just feel powerless.
Could you ever have imagined that you would be living in the way that you are right now?
(Cantonese) You know, you can physically escape, but your heart is always trapped there.
(Cantonese) I watch people getting beaten up.
(Cantonese) It's really outrageous.
(Cantonese) In my sleep at night, I wake up and think why am I not there in Hong Kong?
(Cantonese) But I don't know what I can do.
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Inside the Secret Network Helping Protesters Flee Hong Kong | The Dispatch

3050 Folder Collection
Mackenzie published on December 10, 2019    Mackenzie translated    Steve reviewed
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