Taipei / Hong Kong – Taiwan is preparing to welcome Hong Kong residents fleeing their cities as China tightens its grip, but the island has little experience of dealing with refugees and is preparing to put in and out any Chinese spies who are trying to join it. Visit.
Year-round anti-government protests in Hong Kong have won widespread sympathy for the democratic and Chinese claim of Taiwan, which welcomes those who have already come and expect more.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen became the first government leader last month, promising to take action to help the Hong Kong people, including the newly introduced national security law, which would tighten Chinese restrictions and undermine their democratic aspirations.
China has refused to restrict Hong Kong’s freedoms and has condemned Tsai’s offer.
Taiwan, like many in the former British colony of Hong Kong, is wary of the mainland and is working on a humanitarian relief plan for the expected arrival, officials say.
“There is no doubt that Hong Kong is a priority,” a senior government official familiar with the president’s thinking told Reuters, adding that the administration was allocating resources to handle the Hong Kong population.
The plan includes a monthly allowance for living and rent and shelter for those who cannot afford it, said a second person with direct knowledge of the arrangements.
It is quick to gauge how many people will come, but Taiwan does not expect that number to be greater than the thousands of people from Vietnam since the mid-1970s, and most have fled the US-backed South Vietnamese communist takeover.
About 200 Hong Kong people have fled to Taiwan since last year’s protests, and about 10 per cent have been granted visas under a law protecting Hong Kong people who are at risk for political reasons, said Shih Yi-hsiang of the Taiwan Human Rights Association. .
As of now, Taiwan has blocked Hong Kong people as part of its efforts to prevent the coronavirus virus, so Shih expects the number to rise once the ban is lifted.
A second source said the government was looking for specialists in a hurry, with concerns that China might infiltrate the spies who have been posing as refugees with little experience and activists since the 1970s.
The source, who declined to be identified, said: “This is a very complicated situation that the Taiwan government has never dealt with.”
“Even in our dreams we don’t think things like this will ever happen in Hong Kong.”
China’s Taiwan affairs office did not respond to a request for comment.
A Taiwan government delegation, including security officials, will review visas and issue visas, allowing Hong Kong people to study or work in Taiwan, a second source said.
Shih said specialists are needed in areas ranging from case management to counseling.
A senior Western diplomat from Taipei said that Taiwan is more likely to get more serious opponents and less well-off because those with the means to go to countries such as Canada or Britain will choose.
Tyrant Lau, 26, who was released last month from an eight-month jail term in Hong Kong for possessing weapons, welcomed Sai’s offer and said he intended to make Taiwan home because of its democracy and lower cost of living.
“This is the only hope of the militants who cannot go elsewhere,” he said in La Hong Kong while waiting for the border to open.
“I hope to live a normal life in Taiwan. I forgot what a normal life looks like. “