A RECORD number of Hong Kong residents have relocated to Taiwan following China’s crackdown on the city’s protest movement and the implementation of a controversial new national security law.
Newly-released figures from Taiwan’s Immigration Agency show that more than 10,800 Hong Kongers received local resident permits in 2020, nearly double the amount who relocated to the democratic island the prior year.
The number of Hong Kongers relocating to Taiwan in 2020 is the highest in at least three decades, according to agency data that goes back to 1991.
The figures underscore the desire among some Hong Kong residents to seek a new home and more stable political environment outside of Asia’s main financial hub after months-long protests and China’s crackdown on dissent.
It also comes as the UK launches a new visa programme and path to citizenship for British National (Overseas) passport holders in Hong Kong.
Following China’s move on June 30 to impose the security law on Hong Kong with no local government debate, many prominent activists have been arrested, charged or fled into exile in the UK and elsewhere.
In August, China’s coast guard also apprehended 12 Hong Kong activists fleeing to Taiwan by boat.
The security law prohibits subversion, terrorism, secession and “collusion” with foreign forces.
While China has said the law is necessary to restore stability after the protests in 2019, foreign governments said the legislation has been used to target democracy activists and is eroding freedoms Beijing pledged to maintain after the 1997 handover.
Taiwan shares similar aspects of Chinese culture and has a government that cheered on the city’s pro-democracy movement. It has been a favoured destination for Hong Kongers looking to leave their home city.