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Hong Kong protesters who fled to Taiwan are caught up in a series of restrictions designed to protect the democratically governed islands from increasingly tough China.

President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan Provide asylum After Beijing took action to suppress dissidents in this former British colony, a wave of fled Hong Kongers. But many people are disappointed with the Taiwanese government because they are working hard to establish a new life on both sides of the strait.

“Tsai Ing-wen is very positive about the protesters,” said Lev Nachman, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University who studies political protest movements in Taiwan and Hong Kong. “But there is a disconnect between her words and the help measures the government is taking.”

In May 2020, after China implemented strict national security laws, Tsai Ing-wen announced that Taiwan would “provide necessary assistance to the people of Hong Kong.” “The solution is not a bullet,” she said, “but the real realization of freedom and democracy.”

However, Cai rejected calls for the introduction of a refugee or political asylum system, which would pave the way for exile protesters to obtain permanent residency or citizenship, fearing that this might “create trouble in China,” Nachman said.

Taiwan is Worried about angering Beijing Just like the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has strengthened its military posture towards the country, it has become an outpost for anti-CCP activities.

In July last year, five protesters who went to Taiwan illegally by boat were quietly placed in a military base for six months before being allowed to enter the United States on humanitarian grounds.

“Taiwan helped Hong Kong people. This is undeniable,” said Lin Rongji, owner of Taipei’s Causeway Bay Bookstore. Kidnapped Arrested by mainland agents in 2015. After Hong Kong proposed an extradition law to China in 2019, he fled. “The question is whether more help can be done.”

Lin Rongji wants to know if he can do more for Hong Kongers who fled to Taiwan © Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images

In the first five months of 2021, Taiwan approved nearly 4,000 temporary residence applications for Hong Kong residents, an increase of 44% over the previous year.

“Wealthy Hong Kong people are more likely to go to Taiwan, but the more pressing group is the protesters, many of whom are young students,” Nakhman said.

The lack of formal refugee procedures means that many Hong Kong people must transition from one temporary visa to another, making it difficult to find stable jobs.

Jiang Minyan, a researcher at the Think Tank of the Taipei Economic Democratic Alliance, said, “Without permanent residency or citizenship, Hong Kong people cannot feel like they belong to Taiwan.”

Supporters who lobbied on behalf of Hong Kong people said that Taiwan’s visa procedures have disappointed exiles. To obtain a work visa, Hong Kong immigrants must obtain a job opportunity with a monthly salary that is twice the minimum wage in Taiwan. For the young and working-class Hong Kong people who are the mainstay of the democratic movement, this requirement is difficult to meet.

Qiu Cuizheng, deputy minister of the Mainland Affairs Commission, told the Financial Times that it handles each residence permit application separately and provides additional support where extenuating circumstances.

Taiwan opened a special office in July 2020 to coordinate humanitarian assistance to Hong Kong people in response to the National Security Law that was implemented a month ago. The office provides financial and physical and mental health support to exiled activists.

Have lunch at the Aegis Restaurant, which provides job opportunities for Hong Kongers seeking asylum in Taipei
Lunch at the Aegis Restaurant, which provides job opportunities for Hong Kongers seeking asylum in Taipei © Ann Wang/Reuters

The Taiwan Affairs Office of the Chinese government criticized Tsai’s support for the protests as part of a “separatist conspiracy” to promote the independence movement of Taiwan and Hong Kong.China claims that Taiwan is part of its territory and has Threatened to attack If Taipei seeks formal independence.

The influx from Hong Kong has also exacerbated Taiwan’s concerns Chinese agent Those who have infiltrated the democratic movement may have already arrived on the island.

“Taiwan is very sensitive to anything related to China,” said Simon, a Hong Kong native who came to Taipei after the National Security Law was passed and asked to use a pseudonym.

Simon has been waiting for a year, wondering if his retired mother can join him. When the authorities discovered that she was working for a Hong Kong technology company acquired by a mainland Chinese competitor, her application ran into obstacles.

Sangpu, a lawyer who runs an organization that helps Hong Kong people apply for Taiwanese residency rights, said the authorities rejected applicants working for mainland companies.

Qiu defended Taiwan’s cautious attitude. “Hong Kong has changed and is now controlled by the CCP,” he said, “so we must prevent the possibility of China from using our loose policy on Hong Kong immigration to infiltrate Taiwan.”

Taiwan has begun to develop contingency plans to deal with the loss of official representatives on the ground in Hong Kong as relations between territories Continue to deteriorateActivists worry that Tsai Ing-wen will cancel the special status of the city, which makes it easier for Hong Kong people to migrate to the island than mainland Chinese residents.

“Taiwan’s door to Hong Kong is slowly closing,” Sang said. “Before that, Taipei should let in supporters of democracy.”

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