Taiwan officially launched an office on Wednesday that will facilitate migration from Hong Kong in a bid to attract bankers, skilled workers and companies that want to escape China’s increasing control over the former British colony.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said it hopes the office will attract capital and professionals from Hong Kong to Taiwan to spur new opportunities in Taiwan’s financial sector, as it expressed its support for Hong Kong’s democracy and freedom.
Based in Taipei, the “Taiwan-Hong Kong Office for Exchanges and Services,” was first introduced on June 18 and officially commenced operations on July 1, mere hours after China imposed a controversial new security law on Hong Kong that has raised concerns about civil liberties in the city. China’s enactment of the new law coincided with the anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule from Britain in 1997, under the promise of autonomy with Beijing's "one country, two systems" formula.
The office was unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“This is an important milestone for the government to further support democracy and freedom in Hong Kong,” Chen Ming-tong, chairman of Taiwan's China-policy making agency said at the opening, according to Reuters.
“We hope to attract capital and professionals from Hong Kong to Taiwan, especially talent in the financial industry,” Chen said, according to Bloomberg, which also reported that Taiwan is reviewing regulations that might impede migration, including the income tax rate.
The office is aimed at providing consultation services for Hong Kong citizens coming to Taiwan for education, employment, investment, entrepreneurship, immigration and residency and for multinational companies relocating to Taiwan.
The office will "pragmatically handle affairs related to humanitarian assistance and care" for Hong Kong citizens, based on Taiwan’s security considerations, the council said on June 18.
Mainland Affairs Council’s Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-Cheng said the new office will have about 24 staff with 20 inquiry hotlines, according to Reuters. .
“I believe that now is the time for Taiwan to quickly step up to the plate and develop itself into an alternative regional financial services centre,” Lee Faulkner, a fellow at the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, the U.K.’s actuarial body said on Monday in the University of Nottingham’s online magazine for its the Taiwan Studies Program.
“As Beijing engages in what appears to be the slow-motion strangulation of Hong Kong, this could be Taiwan’s big moment in history,” Faulkner said.
The new national security law for Hong Kong, which was finalized by China on Tuesday, outlaws activities deemed as secessionist, subversive, terrorist in nature or as collusion with foreign forces. The introduction of the law sparked massive protests in Hong Kong, and has drawn criticism from lawmakers in the West, especially in the U.K. and the U.S.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-we tweeted on Tuesday condemning the new national security law: “China's disregard for the will of Hong Kong’s people proves that ‘one country, two systems’ is not viable. Many things have changed in #HongKong since 1997, but #Taiwan’s commitment to supporting those #HKers who want freedom & democracy has never changed. #StandWithHongKong”