The number of Hong Kongers approved to take up residency in Taiwan during the first 10 months of this year surged 21 percent from a year earlier to 4,352, Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said on Thursday.
Citing statistics compiled by the National Immigration Agency (NIA), Chiu said most Hong Kongers moved to Taiwan either to study or marry a Taiwanese, or entered on investor or dependent visas.
Asked if the increase in the number of Hong Kongers applying to reside in Taiwan was due to clashes between protesters and police since pro-democracy rallies over the now-scrapped extradition bill started in June, Chiu did not give a direct answer.
However, he said that passage of a Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy bill by the US Congress has put greater pressure on Hong Kong authorities, which have resorted to the use of force against demonstrators.
NIA statistics showed that since June, the number of Hong Kongers applying for Taiwanese residence permits has jumped by a double-digit percentage.
In June and July, 681 Hong Kongers applied to reside in Taiwan, up 45.5 percent from a year earlier. The growth rate for July alone was 64 percent.
Following the pro-democracy “Umbrella movement” in September 2014, the number of Hong Kong applicants for Taiwanese residence permits hit a record of more than 8,000 in 2015, with 7,506 obtaining permits, NIA tallies showed.
From the start of this year until Aug. 11, it rose 14.3 percent from a year earlier to 2,027, the data showed.
Chiu added that more Taiwanese students have returned because of the protests.
There were 1,021 Taiwanese students in Hong Kong before the protests started in June.
As of 4pm on Thursday, 685 Taiwanese students had returned, Chiu said.
Several universities have offered to help people studying in Hong Kong who are willing to transfer to Taiwan on exchange or special programs.
National Taiwan University said 562 students in Hong Kong have applied to study as exchange students, including 289 Taiwanese, 168 Hong Kongers, and the rest from China, North America, Europe, Australia and several Asian countries.
A survey by Chinese University of Hong Kong earlier this year showed that Taiwan was the third-most favored emigration destination by Hong Kongers, after Canada (18.8 percent) and Australia (18 percent).
Immigration consultants in Taiwan said a larger number of Hong Kongers have approached them for information recently.
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