Record numbers of Hong Kongers are moving to Taiwan as authorities in Hong Kong ratchet up the authoritarianism and quickly destroy freedoms long enjoyed in the city.
While there have been people from Hong Kong settling in Taiwan for sometime, whether to enjoy greater freedom and distance from China, or just to escape the insane housing market in Hong Kong (though Taiwan’s isn’t cheap either). However, with the anti-extradition movement leading to million-person protests that resulted in abuses by the police and the national security law that was passed in 2020, immigration numbers have jumped significantly.
Nearly 13,000 Hong Kongers came to Taiwan last year. Of those, 1,685 attained permanent residency and 11,173 acquired short-term residency. The increase has been stead as 2020, the year the national security law was passed, saw over 10,000 new short-term residents. Back in 2014, at the height of the Umbrella Movement protests, over 7,500 such visas.
Taiwan actually does not currently have any refugee or asylum laws. This is likely due to a fear that a mass of Chinese asylum seekers would flood over. Taiwan, while billing itself as an international and accepting space, actually has a pretty checkered history with its immigration policy and willingness to allow in asylum seekers.
While it is true that Taiwan does have other routes to attaining residency, they are often through things like investment visas, which disproportionately favor the rich who are already in a much better position to flee and receive such status in many parts of the world.
Taiwan has taken in those seeking asylum from Hong Kong, though these tend to be higher profile individuals like Lam Wing-kee the famous owner of Causeway Bay Books, now located in Taipei.
As the authoritarian crackdown continues in Hong Kong, it is likely that there will be many more seeking to flee the city. Hopefully Taiwan will be there to help.