About 11,000 Hong Kong residents have chosen to relocate to Taiwan in 2020, almost double the number from the previous year, after a draconian security law was imposed by Beijing.
According to Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency, the number of Hong Kong residents granted short-term residency soared to 10,813 from 5,858 in 2019. The previous record was 7,506 in 2014 during the financial hub’s pro-democracy “Umbrella Movement”.
While Taiwan has long attracted people from Hong Kong who are seeking an alternative to their city’s frenetic pace and sky-high rents, the new security law has accelerated the exodus.
Taiwan’s Liberty Times newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying the number of arrivals would have been higher if not for COVID-19 border restrictions.
The government of President Tsai Ing-wen has vowed support for Hong Kong’s democracy movement and launched a new office last year to deal with Hongkongers seeking to stay on the island.
Taiwan does not have an asylum or refugee law, nor does it accept refugee applications – fearful of a potential influx from the mainland, but Hong Kong residents can, however, apply to live on the island through other channels, including investment visas.
In August last year, a dozen activists dubbed the ‘Hong Kong 12”, were arrested by the Chinese coast guard when they tried to flee the city to Taiwan by boat.
They have been charged in Hong Kong for alleged offences linked to last year’s huge and often violent protests.
An increasing number of Hong Kong people – including some prominent activists – have gone into exile after local authorities stepped up prosecutions based on the national security law.
In the west, Canada is a favourite destination of the Hongkongers, aided by a network of activists who have helped people escape Beijing ever since the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
Britain has also extended residency rights for nearly three million Hongkongers eligible for British National (Overseas) passports – those born before the former colony’s 1997 handover. (Source: CNA)