Taiwan promises help for fleeing Hong Kongers

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: May 28, 2020, 01.24 PM(IST)

China Hong Kong unrest Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

China has adopted the plan of imposing a new national security law on Hong Kong in the aftermath of last year's violent unrest that plunged the city into its deepest turmoil since returning to Chinese rule in 1997.

Taiwan on Thursday promised to settle Hong Kongers who have been fleeing the Chinese-ruled city due to political reasons, offering help from employment to counselling as China pushes new security legislation that has triggered fresh protests.

China has adopted the plan of imposing a new national security law on Hong Kong in the aftermath of last year's violent unrest that plunged the city into its deepest turmoil since returning to Chinese rule in 1997.

The country’s legislature on Thursday nearly unanimously approved the plan to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism, foreign interference and any act that might threaten national security in the semi-autonomous city.

Hong Kong's demonstrators have won widespread sympathy in democratic Taiwan, which China considers as its territory to be taken by force, if necessary. Taiwan has shown no interest in being ruled by autocratic China.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen this week became the first world leader to pledge specific measures to help people from Hong Kong who may leave the former British colony due to the new legislation, a move that is certain to sour already poor ties between Taipei and Beijing.

Chen Ming-tong, head of Taiwan's top China-policy maker, the Mainland Affairs Council, told parliament the government will establish an organisation to deliver "humanitarian relief" that includes settlement and employment in a joint effort with activists groups.

He said counselling services will also be available for Hong Kongers, some of whom may take part in increasingly violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Chen also urged the public not use the word "refugee" as it could be "emotionally harmful" for people from the city.

Chen, however, did not give details such as scale, timing and qualification of the relief programme when pressed by lawmakers, saying the government is still working on the details.

Help for Hong Kong has won rare bipartisan support in politically polarised Taiwan and three opposition parties have introduced bills to make it easier for Hong Kongers to live in Taiwan if they have to leave the city due to political reasons.

Taiwan has no law on refugees that could be applied to protesters seeking asylum, but its laws promise to help Hong Kongers whose safety and liberty are threatened for political reasons.

Some say Tsai's government is not moving fast enough.

Ivan Tang, a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist, welcomed Tsai's support but cautioned a sense of urgency among protesters in the city, some of whom had been barred from entering Taiwan due to travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Taiwan has become a popular destination for Hong Kongers leaving the city, with the number of Hong Kong citizens granted Taiwan residency jumping 150% to 2,383 in the first four months of 2020 compared with a year ago, official data shows.

University applications to Taiwan from Hong Kong also rose 62% in 2020 from a year ago, and island's education ministry said this week it was planning to raise the quota for Hong Kong students.

(with inputs from Reuters)

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