Taiwan on Wednesday opened an office to facilitate migration from Hong Kong following China’s passage of a national security law for the former British colony seen as sharply restricting political opposition and freedom of speech.
Taiwan is a self-governing democracy claimed by China as its own territory and has firmly rejected Beijing’s demand that it unify with the mainland under the “one country, two systems” framework in place in Hong Kong.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council minister, Chen Ming-tong, said the office would assist Hong Kong professionals seeking to move to the island for a range of purposes, including education and business.
Under Hong Kong’s national security law enacted Tuesday, those found guilty of inciting activities deemed to be of a secessionist, subversive or terrorist nature or of colluding with foreign forces could face up to life imprisonment.
The establishment of the office is “not only a statement on Taiwan’s support to Hong Kong’s democracy and freedom, but also highlights our determination to care for Hong Kong people,” Chen told reporters.
Chen said the law’s implementation effectively terminates China’s promise to allow Hong Kong to retain its separate legal, economic and civil rights promised to it for 50 years beginning from the 1997 return to Chinese rule.
Taiwan’s high-tech economy and falling birth rate have prompted the government to entice Taiwanese professionals to return from abroad, as well as to attract new capital and investment from other countries and territories.
China has cut ties with Taiwan’s government and stepped up its efforts to isolate the island diplomatically, and has said it will bring Taiwan under its control by military force if necessary.