The number of Hong Kongers applying for residency in Taiwan skyrocketed 71.7 percent in the first 10 months of the year compared with a year earlier, National Immigration Agency data showed yesterday, as an expert predicted more waves of immigration after the COVID-19 pandemic eases.
In October alone, 1,974 Hong Kongers applied for residency and 128 applied for permanent residency, not only setting a record, but more than doubling the figure from previous months, the agency said.
The number of Hong Kongers applying for residency or permanent residency this year could surpass 10,000, as 8,746 had applied in the first 10 months, already higher than the 7,332 who applied in the whole of last year, it added.
Following Hong Kong’s passage of the National Security Law on June 30, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) in July opened the Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office to help Hong Kongers who plan to study, work, invest, start a business or settle in Taiwan.
As of Monday last week, the office had received more than 1,700 inquiries, it said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in his quest for political control has had no qualms about destroying Hong Kong, an expert in cross-strait affairs said.
The territory’s economy contracted 9 percent in the first three quarters of this year, and a lot of foreign investment is preparing to leave, bringing foreign skilled workers and Hong Kongers with economic means along with it, he said.
“Hong Kong cannot go back to how it was before,” as the security law would override everything — even the judges who would dare acquit pro-democracy campaigners, he said.
Under this shroud of fear, more Hong Kongers would want to immigrate to Taiwan, he added.
Although movement is restricted at the moment due to the pandemic, based on the number of inquiries the office has received, he predicted that waves of immigrants would arrive after control measures are eased.
MAC Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) last week told the Legislative Yuan that many Hong Kongers are choosing to settle in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District (淡水).
An official with knowledge of the matter said that cheaper real-estate prices make Tamsui and Linkou District (林口) most attractive to the new arrivals.
Tamsui has become a top choice, as its landscape is reminiscent of Hong Kong island, with real estate at one-eighth of the price, he added.
The shore near the Port of Kaohsiung has also drawn a fair number of transplants, as real-estate and commodity prices are cheaper than in Taipei, the official said.
For an investment visa, applicants only need to invest NT$6 million (US$210,276), less than half of the NT$15 million or more that many other nations require, he said.
However, the most important consideration is Taiwan’s free and open society, he added.
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