TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Amid the implementation of the draconian national security law in Hong Kong last year, the number of Hongkongers moving to Taiwan doubled from 2019, surpassing 10,000.
The controversial security law was passed in June of 2020, and since then a number of prominent activists have been rounded up and thrown in prison. In order to flee tyranny, many began seeking refuge in other countries, and neighboring Taiwan increasingly became an attractive option.
On July 1 of last year, Taiwan opened up the Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office to provide services to Hongkongers who wish to study, conduct business, invest, or seek asylum in Taiwan. According to data from Taiwan's National Immigration Agency, 10,813 Hong Kong citizens were granted short-term residency in Taiwan last year, nearly double the 5,858 seen in 2019.
Last year's wave also surpassed the 7,506 who moved to Taiwan following the Umbrella Movement. In addition, 1,576 Hongkongers also obtained permanent residency, far surpassing the 102 registered in 2019.
Typically, the number of Chinese nationals receiving short-term residency in Taiwan exceeds that of Hong Kong citizens. However, this year, the number of Hongkongers receiving short-term residency exceeded the number of Chinese by 4,700.
The number of Hongkongers seeking residency could have been even higher last year if it had not been for travel restrictions imposed by the Hong Kong government amid the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, reported Liberty Times. A source who spoke to the newspaper alleged the Hong Kong government is tightly restricting all travel by air, land, and sea in the name of "epidemic prevention" but with the goal of preventing its citizens from fleeing.
According to a survey by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, 43.9 percent of Hong Kong citizens are planning to emigrate, and half of these are already making preparations to do so. Among the preferred destinations, Taiwan ranks third, behind the U.K. and Australia and ahead of Canada and the U.S.
A poll conducted by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups found that 30 percent of young people intend to emigrate, with more than 40 percent planning to do so within the next two years. The main reason given, at 50.7 percent, was the national security law.
One major criticism among those in Taiwan who support the Hong Kong activists is that President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) government has not yet taken significant steps to establish a formal asylum process for Hongkongers.