The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) is considering a legal amendment to tighten permanent residency requirements for Hong Kongers.
The changes would extend the minimum period Hong Kongers must stay in Taiwan to become eligible to apply for permanent residency, from one year to at least four years.
The council is considering amending the Regulations Governing Permits for Hong Kong and Macau Residents Entering the Taiwan Area and Setting Up Residence or Registered Permanent Residence in the Republic of China (香港澳門居民進入台灣地區及居留定居許可辦法), a government official said yesterday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Photo: Chung Li-hua, Taipei Times
Current regulations stipulate that Hong Kong and Macau residents who have lineal relatives or a spouse with a household registration in Taiwan, have received “overseas compatriot education” or contributed to overseas community affairs before the UK or Portugal ended their governance of the territories, invested more than NT$6 million (US$195,185) in Taiwan, or have passed review by a central competent authority can apply for permanent residency after staying in Taiwan “for a period of time.”
The official said the term “for a period of time” means they can apply for naturalization after staying in Taiwan for one year, which is a “quasi-national treatment,” as other foreign nationals must stay for five years before they can apply for naturalization.
Asked why Hong Kong and Macau residents are given special treatment, the official said the government sympathized with Hong Kongers after the territory was returned to China in 1997.
Hong Kong residents who held a Taiwanese identity card before 1997 were considered Taiwanese citizens, so under the special circumstances, the government at the time granted Hong Kongers “quasi-national treatment,” allowing them to be naturalized after staying in Taiwan for one year, the official said.
Hong Kong and Taiwan had a special relationship, but after Beijing implemented the National Security Law in Hong Kong in 2020, breaking its promise of “one country, two systems,” the territory has not been the same, they said.
Democracy, freedom and human rights no longer exist in Hong Kong, democracy advocates have been jailed, district councilors who support Taiwan or democracy have been disqualified and many people from mainland China have migrated to Hong Kong, the official said.
National security agencies are concerned that China might try to infiltrate Taiwan through Hong Kong, they said.
According to the proposed amendment, Hong Kongers born in Hong Kong and with no relatives in mainland China would need to stay in Taiwan for four years before they can apply for permanent residency, the official said.
Mainland Chinese with permanent residency in Hong Kong would need to stay for at least six years before they can apply, similar to Chinese spouses of Taiwanese, they said.
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