The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) is considering relaxing residency rules for Hong Kongers employed at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Hong Kong, hoping to allay employees’ fears of Chinese oppression, sources said yesterday.
The Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門關係條例) states that after six years of employment, local staffers at the Hong Kong and Macau offices, as well as their parents, in-laws, spouses and children under 18, enjoy the same rights as Taiwanese for entry, residency and employment in Taiwan.
While the act requires applicants to live in Taiwan as temporary residents while waiting to be granted permanent residency, the government is considering ways to offer assistance to Hong Kongers employed by its office in the event they are forced to depart for Taiwan, sources said.
Relaxation of the residency application regulations for Hong Kongers employed by the office would give them some comfort and safety, the sources added.
The Hong Kong government has refused to answer the office’s queries on how the safety of Taiwan’s Hong Kong office, and its Taiwanese and Hong Kong employees, would be guaranteed, they said.
While the Hong Kong government has not made the Hong Kong employees’ lives difficult, it is understandable that the employees would be worried about how the territory’s National Security Law might affect them, sources said.
Since Beijing imposed the National Security Law in Hong Kong last year, seven Taiwanese officials at the Hong Kong office have been forced to return to Taiwan after they did not sign a pledge to observe the “one China” policy.
After the law was passed, the Hong Kong government made the pledge part of the renewal application for work visas.
The office’s Economy Division Director Ni Po-chia (倪伯嘉) is the sole remaining Taiwanese official at the Hong Kong office, but his visa is due to expire at the end of this month.
The 50 local Hong Kong staffers are to continue to provide service after Ni’s departure, while all policies regarding sovereignty would be handled from Taiwan.
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