Taiwan has decided to provide “necessary help” to the people of Hong Kong after the officials met a student delegation from China’s semi-autonomous region on December 12. Taiwan has repeatedly clarified that it has no intention to interfere in the internal affairs of Hong Kong but simultaneously showed concerns about police using “disproportionate force” against the anti-government protesters.
As Hong Kong is staring at an uncertain future amid weeks of violent clashes, protesters have now started seeking asylum in Taiwan. In recent times, Taiwan has been witnessing an influx from Hong Kong and the permanent as well as short-term residency shot up to 30 per cent in a period of nine months.
Asylum seekers from Hong Kong feel that there are too many external forces acting in the semi-autonomous region of China which could change the course of events dramatically. They fear that the city will never be the same after what happened in the past six months. Protesters are of the opinion that Taiwan is democratic and has freedom of speech, unlike China. Though Taiwan lacks a legal mechanism to provide asylum or accept refugee applications, there are various ways for Hong Kong citizens to move Taiwan, including investment visas.
Chiu Chui-cheng, deputy head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, acknowledged the anxiety of the students he met and said that the administration will have the necessary communication. Earlier, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu had assured that the existing legislation is sufficient to help a small number of students seeking refuge. He also hinted at a different stance if mainland Chinese forces intervene with “a new level of violence”.
“When that happens, Taiwan is going to work with the international community to provide necessary assistance to those who are displaced by the violence there,” said Wu.
Wu said that Hong Kong’s scenario was not very appealing and raised apprehensions about China’s future treatment of Taiwanese people.
“The people here understand that how the Chinese government treats Hong Kong is going to be the future way of them treating Taiwan,” Wu added.