TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The number of Hongkongers applying for residency in Taiwan this year has reached a record high, amounting to an exodus from the Beijing-controlled territory.
From January to October, a total of 7,474 Hongkongers applied for Taiwanese residency, which is significantly higher than the previous year's total, stated Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正), deputy minister of the Mainland Affairs Council. In 2019, 5,858 people from Hong Kong sought resident permits in Taiwan.
Only a handful of Hongkongers have been allowed to come to Taiwan due to the strict travel restrictions imposed by authorities in light of the ongoing pandemic. Only dependents and those who need to fulfill work assignments or business contracts are allowed into the country, according to Chiu.
The deputy minister predicted that there would be more Hongkongers seeking to move to Taiwan once social mobility returns to normal.
“We need to be proactive and support them with institutional arrangements. This is our pending assignment,” noted Chiu. The government will work with civil groups and academia on refining legislation and systems, he said, adding that “This is what ‘stand with Hong Kong’ means.”
Wu Jie-min (吳介民), a researcher from Academia Sinica, argued that Hong Kong is currently “under undeclared martial law.” Taiwan can be a node of information, logistics, and networks as the international community takes action to support Hong Kong, he observed.
The government should consider the transition of Hong Kong’s status in the post-pandemic era, said Wu. He added that it is also important to seek a new discourse for the development of Taiwan as a nation.
Researcher Wu Jie-min (Democratic Progressive Party photo)
Chiang Min-yen (江旻諺), secretary-general of the Taiwan Citizen Front (台灣公民陣線), which has been calling on the government to mull a refugee law, said the government should develop a systematic approach to provide assistance to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists and protesters.