TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Hong Kong residents have been cautioned against illegally entering Taiwan, as reports circulate that more than 200 pro-democracy protesters have fled to the island country.
The New York Times reported on Sunday (Dec. 8) the young protesters have escaped to Taiwan in clandestine operations carried out by a group of pastors, lawyers, and other supporters. The operations involve wealthy donors paying for airplane tickets, volunteers transporting protesters to and from airports, fishermen offering boat rides at up to $10,000 per head, and pastors arranging smuggling routes for those who have had their passports confiscated.
The youths are fleeing over fears of unfair treatment, abuse, torture, and even sexual assault — should they get arrested. There are also protesters who seek medical aid in Taiwan, as hospitals in the Chinese city have allegedly become places where arrests take place, the report suggested.
Asked for comment, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) told CNA that Taiwan does not welcome Hongkongers entering the island country illegally. Existing regulations including those pertaining to Hong Kong and Macau are sufficient to accommodate entry requests based on humanitarian principles.
Last week, a group of student representatives from Hong Kong universities made a plea for the expedited passage of the Refugee Act in Taiwan, and an institutionalized mechanism for asylum seekers from the Chinese city. The issue has presented a challenge for Taiwan, as geopolitical realities mean the possibility of Chinese spies and conspirators exploiting such legislation to enter Taiwan must be addressed first.