Taiwan moves to screen out mainland saboteurs and spies while opening to Hongkongers fleeing security law

Taiwan will tighten up screening of Hong Kong residents with mainland Chinese citizenship, as it faces a sharp rise in the number of Hongkongers looking to move to island after the introduction of the national security law.
The latest move, which targets mainland spies and saboteurs of the island’s security, came after Taiwan offered a relocation programme for Hongkongers seeking to flee the city under political or other concerns, according to the Mainland Affairs Council.
In a statement on Monday, the MAC, which charts the island’s policy towards the mainland, said the interior affairs ministry recently revised the “Regulations Governing Permits for People from Hong Kong and Macau Setting up Residence or Permanent Residence in the Republic of China (Taiwan’s official title)”.
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Under the amendments, Hong Kong residents who are mainland Chinese citizens and those who are serving or had worked in Chinese government, political party and military posts, will be subject to strict screening if they apply to settle on the island.
“This is to prevent them from using their Hong Kong resident status to apply for relocation in Taiwan in order to carry out infiltration, united front, disturbance or spying activities,” the council said.
MAC officials said the screening would be conducted by a cross-department ad hoc committee involving officials from the National Immigration Agency, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the National Security Bureau and Investigation Bureau as well as other relevant agencies.
“The immigration and security authorities are responsible for checking the backgrounds of the applicants. If one is found to have Chinese citizenship and is serving or had served in those posts before, he or she is highly likely to be rejected for relocation to Taiwan,” an interior affairs ministry source said.
The amendments also targeted those who were suspected of engaging in terrorist acts, or had taken part in or funded acts of sedition, subversion and treason, the source said, adding that it also included Macau residents originally from China or who were in or had been in government, party or military positions
The source said applicants who sought settlement in Taiwan needed to provide copies of their Hong Kong or Macau resident status, police records showing they had not committed crimes in the past five years and health certificates proving they had no communicable diseases.
“For those who are not able to get a police record from the city for political reasons like involvement in pro-democracy protests in the city, their cases will be processed on a case-by-case basis,” the source noted.
Soon after the mainland imposed a new national security law in Hong Kong, Taiwan opened an office on July 1 to help Hongkongers seeking to leave the city for the self-ruled island.
Beijing later denounced the move, saying the island was trying to fan enmity and hatred towards the mainland. Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province that must be returned to the mainland fold, by force if necessary.
Although the MAC declined to reveal the number of applicants seeking to flee the city, local news media reported that the office had received more than 2,000 applications one week after opening the office.
According to the National Immigration Agency, the number of Hong Kong residents obtaining residency on the island stood at 3,161 in the first six months of this year, up 116 per cent from the same period last year.
Most of these people had applied to settle in Taiwan as investors, technicians or professionals or as relatives of Taiwanese people, according to the agency.
There was no data on how many were settling in Taiwan for political reasons.
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