Mon, Jul 01, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Immigrants despair over HK’s future

Reuters, TAINAN

Kitty Wong and Adolf Lim are tightening the screws on their future in Taiwan as they make the final touches to a hostel in Tainan that they hope will open its doors to holidaymakers this month.

The couple from Hong Kong came to Taiwan in search of a stress-free life after being disappointed with the fragmentation of society back in Hong Kong, along with the daily negativity that they found hard to escape.

This is the third hostel they are opening after arriving in 2016.

“The level of evil that you are dealing with is too high, I just see no way out,” Lim said, talking about how the Chinese Communist Party is clamping down on freedom in the territory.

It is not only the pressure from China that made him pack his bags, but also daily acts of frustration that drive a wedge in society.

“As they are unable to attack Uncle Xi, they go ahead and attack tourists,” he said, referring to the attitude of fellow Hong Kong citizens to visitors from China, who are often resented for their perceived poor manners. “I feel incapable to change the regime, but I am also unable to accept this sort of behavior.”

“Recently, we’ve been getting a lot of inquiries,” said Wong, referring to their status as something of a point of contact for Hong Kongers wanting to make the jump.

Many ask about the possibility of gaining citizenship in Taiwan as investors.

The number of people granted Taiwan residency from Hong Kong and Macau has more than doubled to 1,267 last year from a decade earlier, official data show.

The trend spiked in the two years following protests calling for full democracy in 2014 that paralyzed parts of Hong Kong for months.

There were about 400 such immigrants to Taiwan in the first four months of this year, a 40 percent jump from a year earlier.

Cafe owner Ricky Chang first came to Taiwan as a student and decided to settle down in Tainan in 2013 after several stints in other countries.

He too is often approached for advice by hopeful immigrants who are eager to gain citizenship in Taiwan in case things become too difficult in Hong Kong.

Although he did not move to Taiwan for political reasons, a proposed extradition law in Hong Kong has changed his thinking.

“I’m worried that I have been engaging in some behaviors that, although they are legal in Taiwan and don’t go against the law, might be seen as violations of the law in mainland China and that there might come a day when I travel on a plane with a layover in Hong Kong or go back to Hong Kong to see my parents, that I might be arrested at the airport,” he said.

The extradition bill is the latest in a string of issues that have troubled ties between Hong Kong and Beijing, and sparked big protests in the territory.

Hong Kongers have in the past few years been increasingly upset by Chinese immigrants and sky-high property prices partly pushed up by Chinese investors.

The influx of mainlanders into Hong Kong was the main reason that drove Joe Ching, an entrepreneur in the logistics sector who still has operations in Hong Kong, to Taiwan.

“I moved to Taiwan to look for another way forward, because I don’t want my children to have any interaction or link with mainland Chinese,” he said.

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