Since the enactment of Hong Kong’s National Security Law in July last year, more than 100 Hong Kongers have cited “political factors” as their reason for applying for residence in Taiwan, a source said yesterday.
The applicants invoked Article 18 of the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門關係條例), which stipulates that “necessary assistance shall be provided to Hong Kong or Macau residents whose safety and liberty are immediately threatened for political reasons,” the source said.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in May last year called for an initiative to “support Hong Kongers who are striving for democracy and freedom.”
Those seeking assistance through the act can apply for either temporary or permanent residence in Taiwan, the source said, adding that the Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office in Taipei assists Hong Kongers with their applications.
The Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Co-operation Council has budgeted NT$31.42 million (US$1.13 million) to provide services to Hong Kongers next year, which includes offering assistance to residents of the territory who wish to come to Taiwan, the source said.
Taiwan Hong Kong Association director-general Sang Pu (桑普) said he appreciates the help the Mainland Affairs Council has been providing Hong Kongers, but expressed the hope that applicants would not be labeled “political refugees” or required to show proof of participation in protests.
Such a requirement would put applicants at risk if their information is leaked and would also limit those who are eligible to apply, he said.
Statistics from the Hong Kong Security Bureau show that about 10,500 Hong Kongers emigrated last year, which is the first time since 2006 that more than 10,000 people moved out of the territory in one year.
Emigration from Hong Kong had been high from 1996 to 2002, but then fell annually until reaching a high again last year, the statistics showed.
Those emigrating favored Australia, Canada and the US, in that order, the data showed.
However, the actual number of those emigrating last year might be higher than the estimate, as the figures do not include those relocating to Taiwan, or those with British National Overseas passports moving to the UK.
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