New Taiwan office to help Hongkongers on the move

Local | 18 Jun 2020 7:01 pm

Taiwan authorities will establish a new office to help Hongkongers move to the self-ruled city, starting services on July 1.

Chen Ming-tong, minister of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, said this afternoon the office with two hotlines will cater to Hongkongers seeking humanitarian aid, as well as prospective students, employees, investors and entrepreneurs.

For those in need of humanitarian assistance in specific, they will receive “necessary help” from the Taiwan government, including legal advice and “basic living care”, according to Chen.

“The expenses incurred will be paid by government funding,” he said, adding that the budget depends on how many people will apply for the aid.

But the support will be restricted to those who have entered Taiwan in a lawful way, and meet the requirements under Article 18 of the Laws and Regulations Regarding Hong Kong and Macao Affairs.

The article stipulates that Taiwan should provide assistance to Hong Kong residents whose safety and freedom “are immediately threatened for political reasons”.

“We are here to support [Hongkongers], not to rescue them. This is the furthest we can go considering legal authorization,” Chen said.

He added that authorities have developed a set of guidelines to determine whether an applicant is qualified for the assistance, based on how urgent the threat one faces is, and necessity of support.

With help from NGOs, the government plans to settle these Hongkongers case by case, instead of making any collective arrangements.

Also, Chen welcomed professional talents, multinational companies and international organizations in Hong Kong to resettle in Taiwan, and make contributions to the local economy.

“Considering the current environment in Hong Kong, it is a great opportunity for Taiwan to attract talents,” he said, adding that arrangements of visa and immigration for them will be adjusted.

Separately, eight members of the US House of Representatives plan to introduce new legislation that will assist Hongkongers in seeking asylum in America, according to sources.

Hong Kong Democracy Council, a Hongkonger group based in Washington, said that under the “Hong Kong Airlift Act”, some citizens will be designated as Priority 2 refugees, making it possible for them to apply for asylum at any US consulate, including that in the SAR.

The country’s refugee priority system comprises three levels, with the second considered to have “apparent need for resettlement”. People in this group include members of religious minorities, such as Jews, and Iraqis associated with the US.

The bill will be proposed by congressmen from both the Republican and Democratic Party, including John Curtis and Tom Suozzi, HKDC said.

The group added that the legislation will cover those who are involved in the city’s anti-government protests, including demonstrators, activists, first raiders, lawyers and reporters.

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