Hong Kong students and emigrants in Taiwan have been buying helmets, goggles, umbrellas, plastic wrap and Band-Aids in bulk and couriering them to pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, authorities in mainland China have reportedly been intercepting Hong Kong-bound parcels containing similar items bound for Hong Kong as the protests show no sign of slowing down in the former British territory.

Hongkongers in Taiwan say Beijing has told mainland package service companies like SF Express to step up checks of the contents of parcels before delivering them to people in Hong Kong.

With helmets and other items running out in Hong Kong as more people join the rallies, Taiwan has become the main source of supplies thanks to its geographical proximity, and more importantly, the island’s pro-Hong Kong ethos and its sympathetic government.

Helmets donated by residents in Kaohsiung at a booth set up by Hong Kong students who study in the Taiwanese city. Photo: Handout

Hong Kong students have also been accepting donations of second-hand items from locals, coordinated by an organization called Hong Kong Outlanders. A campaign in Kaohsiung saw an outpouring of help as many waited in line to donate, resulting in more than 1,000 helmets, caps and other supplies. Even gas masks were donated, according to the Liberty Times.

The campaign also collected more than NT$1 million (US$31,600) in cash, which would be spent on buying items and paying for deliveries to Hong Kong.

Similar events were to be held on the main campus of the National Taiwan University, in busy shopping precincts in Taipei and in other urban centers across the island.

Organizers have been looking for more secure ways to send the items to Hong Kong, and the preference hs been to courier the parcels via the island’s state-owned Chunghwa Post, instead of the local branch of a mainland company.

Reporters wear helmets in protest against police brutality at a press conference by senior police officers. Photo: Facebook via Central News Agency
Protesters gather in Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong on August 3, 2019. Photo: Philip Fong / AFP

Helmets and other protective gear are in short supply in Hong Kong as opponents to an extradition bill to China and protesters and the police’s anti-riot squads battle for control of the streets and public spaces. Rubber bullets and tear gas canisters have been fired by police in many districts of the former British colony.

Meanwhile, a recent poll of eligible voters in Taiwan revealed that a majority of the 1,100-plus interviewed supported the protesters in Hong Kong as well as President Tsai Ing-wen’s steadfast rejection of Beijing’s offer of “one country, two systems.”

The survey, conducted by the National Chengchi University’s Election Study Center and commissioned by the Executive Yuan’s Mainland Affairs Council, showed that 65% of respondents backed Tsai’s condemnations of the Hong Kong government’s clampdown on demonstrators and Beijing’s strangling of the city’s freedoms it once promised to respect.

An overwhelming 88% of those surveyed said Taiwan must spurn the “one country, two systems” proposal, an increase of more than 10 percentage points from a previous survey in March. Many Taiwanese voters have been galvanized by what they see happening in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s protracted protests throughout the past two months have become a test of will for both the people and the government, after a rally against an amendment bill that would have enabled the rendition of people to mainland China widened into a groundswell calling for democracy, defending the city’s liberty as well as the resignation of the city’s top leader Carrie Lam.