Hong Kongers flee to Taiwan, away from Chinese autocracy

‘Taiwan is a democratic beacon for Hong Kong,’ said one 32-year-old resident of the city who works for a lawmaker

Hong Kong extradition bill protest

Hong Kong extradition bill protest (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan, already a magnet for Hong Kongers, is expected to draw even more residents from the semi-autonomous territory of China as they flee from what they believe is an increasingly severe erosion of civil liberties by Beijing.

Thousands of Hong Kongers have left the city for Taiwan in recent years as they grow disenchanted with China’s ‘one country, two systems’ mechanism, according to Reuters. Statistics show that Taiwan granted residency to 1,267 residents from Hong Kong and Macau in 2018, double the figure of more than a decade ago.

The trend shows no signs of abating, particularly following the 2014 “Umbrella Revolution” protests demanding democracy. Taiwan has seen 400 new H.K. immigrants in the first quarter of 2019, a 40 percent hike compared to a year ago, the report said.

“Without freedom and democracy, it’s like being put in jail, like living in a concentration camp,” said Yung Xiu-kwan, a 67-year-old H.K. resident who expressed concern over the proposed extradition bill that has caused all the unrest. “Taiwan has democratic elections and a constitution that safeguards democracy,” she was quoted by Reuters as saying, and plans to start a new life on the island.

"Taiwan is a democratic beacon for Hong Kong," the 32-year-old Cheng Chung-man was quoted by Reuters as saying. He works for a lawmaker in the city.

H.K. residents will have to pay NT$6 million (US$191,000) in investment to get Taiwan residency. Also, according to the report, a number of Hong Kong youths would enlist for Taiwan’s compulsory military service to obtain residency.

The contentious extradition bill adds to a long list of issues irking Hong Kong’s people, including the influx of Chinese immigrants, skyrocketing property prices, Beijing’s meddling in local democratic reforms, and the detention of five Hong Kong booksellers who printed publications critical of China’s leaders.