Taipei, Nov. 18 (CNA) More than 60 percent of Taiwanese students studying in Hong Kong have recently returned home amid increasing violent clashes between protesters and police on campuses, the Taiwan government said Monday, as tension continued to escalate in the Chinese special administrative region.
As of Monday afternoon, 623 of a total of 1,021 Taiwanese studying in Hong Kong universities had returned to Taiwan, according to the Ministry of Education (MOE).
Among the 623 returnees, 261 are students at Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). More than 60 percent of Taiwanese students at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU) have also come home, the MOE said in a press release.
The two universities have recently been caught in a series of violent confrontations between black-clad protesters, many of them students, with Hong Kong police.
In case of emergency, the MOE said, Taiwanese in Hong Kong can contact Taiwan's representative office there via its 24-hour hotline 852-6143-9012 should they need assistance.
Meanwhile, Taiwan's top policymaking body on China, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), has called on all parties involved in the Hong Kong upheaval to refrain from engaging in activities that could further escalate the situation.
The Hong Kong authorities should protect students' safety on campuses and both sides should engage in peaceful dialogue to resolve their disputes, a MAC press release said.
Taiwanese citizens in Hong Kong are advised against visiting protest sites, the MAC noted, adding that the government is making every effort to assist its citizens in Hong Kong in the event of emergency.
The unrest in Hong Kong's higher education institutes is part of a months-long pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong that first started in June in opposition to a proposed bill that would have allowed the extradition of criminal suspects to China for trial.
While the proposed bill has since been withdrawn, the protests have morphed into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms, but Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities have refused to budge on any of the protesters' other demands.