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Number of Hongkongers applying for Taiwan residency soars

Taiwan has become a safe haven for city's residents amid continued protests and increasing violence

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A protester is stretchered out of Polytechnic University campus in Hong Kong.

A protester is stretchered out of Polytechnic University campus in Hong Kong. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The number of Hong Kong people applying for residency in Taiwan reached 4,352 between January and October, growing 21 percent compared to the same period last year.

There was a spike in applications between August and October, with 392 in August, 882 in September, and 1,243 in October, said Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正), spokesperson of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) on Thursday (Nov. 21). Hongkongers wishing to obtain a residence permit for the island nation cite reasons such as studying, married to Taiwanese residents, investment, or as dependents, Chiu added.

As of 4 p.m. on Nov. 20, 685 Taiwanese students studying in Hong Kong have returned over safety concerns as the semi-autonomous Chinese territory experiences escalating violence on university campuses, reported CNA.

The Taiwan government will monitor the situation in Hong Kong and take action accordingly, Chiu said. With the United States passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, actions that could undermine Hong Kong’s democracy and freedom should be deterred, he added.

The Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) administration has pledged to offer humanitarian assistance and asylum to Hongkongers. This has ruffled the feathers of Beijing, which sent a dire warning to Taiwan not to meddle in Hong Kong’s affairs, according to South China Morning Post.

National Taiwan University (NTU), considered the country's most prestigious university, had received 562 applications from Hong Kong as of Nov. 21. This followed its announcement last week of a special program to assist students affected by the unrest, reported CommonWealth Magazine.