Politics in Hong Kong has turned dangerously authoritarian. A lackluster and incompetent politician, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) has ignored the political divide plaguing the territory for months. Appeasing Beijing at the expense of Hong Kongers’ well-being, she has squandered the tremendous financial surpluses the territory built up in a decades-long boom and spent heavily on policing, surveillance and control.
While the majority of Hong Kongers find it inconceivable to seek asylum abroad, increasing numbers of young people are fleeing because of human rights abuses.
Taiwan leads the free world in sheltering asylum seekers from Hong Kong and beyond. The August arrest of 12 Hong Kongers at sea attests to the importance of the nation as a safe haven for asylum seekers.
In May, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was the first elected government leader to pledge concrete measures to aid Hong Kong. This decision came weeks before China imposed national security legislation on the territory, ending its version of “one country, two systems.”
Other countries are following Taiwan’s example. The US House of Representatives has introduced the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act, providing qualified Hong Kongers with priority status for refugee consideration.
Faced with a huge backlog of asylum cases due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington is prioritizing applicants already in the country seeking protection.
Besides expanding allocations for people from Hong Kong, Cuba and Venezuela in the resettlement program, the US is allegedly adding another 30,000 immigration visas annually for five years through a points-based system that scores applicants on variables such as age, education, cultural fluency and employment experience. The goal is to attract capable and talented people.
Under the shadow of the refugee crisis, countless people are fleeing from horrible conditions. International support for war refugees and asylum seekers is genuinely humanitarian, but it has significant geopolitical, social and economic implications.
By welcoming refugees from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the US are sending a powerful signal, condemning the moral failure of the Lam regime and China’s mistreatment of the territory. Undoubtedly, the implementation of an asylum policy is contingent upon their respective security concerns and ties with China.
Many foreign-policy analysts say that Taiwan and the US should use the programs to advance geopolitical objectives.
During the Cold War, Washington launched its asylum and refugee efforts as part of an anti-communist strategy, admitting people from socialist bloc countries. Thus, should Taipei and Washington feel threatened by Beijing, they could admit more Hong Kongers to challenge China’s international standing.
Domestic politics also often play an influential role in shaping national policies toward asylum seekers.
As random police arrests and routine torture become daily events in the territory, many overseas Hong Kongers and supporters are lobbying officials to condemn human rights abuses and to coordinate global rescue efforts.
Taiwan and the US are doing right by giving asylum to Hong Kong activists on humanitarian grounds. These asylum seekers wholeheartedly embrace the universal values and norms that are essential for defending the integrity of democratic citizenship anywhere.
Being part of a major flow of talent, Hong Kongers’ cosmopolitan knowledge and special skills would enrich the social, economic, intellectual and technological advancement of their host nations.
Joseph Tse-hei Lee is a professor of history at Pace University in New York City.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday last week, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chiao-hsin (徐巧芯) wrote: “The KMT must fall for Taiwan to improve.’ Allow me to ask the question again: Is this really true?” It matters not how many times Hsu asks the question, my answer will always be the same: “Yes, the KMT must be toppled for Taiwan to improve.” In the lengthy Facebook post, titled “What were those born in the 1980s guilty of?” Hsu harked back to the idealistic aspirations of the 2014 Sunflower movement before heaping opprobrium on the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP)
Some people are saying the weather has been wonderful this year. That depends on how one defines wonderful weather. The Ministry of Economic Affairs last week announced that the alert level for Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli and Taichung areas are to be raised from green to yellow, and that water pressure is to be reduced at night. Few households with water tower storage facilities would have noticed any restrictions on their supply, but people concerned with the water situation have been aware for some time that the lack of typhoons this year, coupled with low rainfall, has meant that in the
Although China’s “reform and opening up” has become an empty slogan, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) still put on a show by touring southern China to mark the 40th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone’s establishment. His motive was not to regain the international community’s trust, but to shore up his power in China. Externally, it was a response to diplomatic setbacks, and it even revealed his adventurist attitude of not being afraid to go to war. When former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) in 1992 conducted similar inspections, it was to suppress the “leftist wind” that was interfering with his
An increasing number of cafes and other businesses in Taiwan are keeping animals, which draw in people who are seeking the next perfect shot for their Instagram accounts. In the past these were mostly standard house pets, such as cats and dogs, which are accustomed to living indoors and being around people. However, raccoons have become popular, as well as alpacas and other “unusual” animals that require specialty care and specific environments to thrive. In late June, a customer recorded a video of the owner of a coffee shop in Taipei apparently unleashing a border collie on a raccoon, who was the star