Taipei, July 1 (IANS) Taiwan inaugurated an office on Wednesday to help Hong Kong citizens wishing to study, do business, invest or apply for asylum in response to China’s controversial security law for the city which has come into force.
The new office began operations on Wednesday, the day on which Hong Kong is commemorating the 23rd anniversary of its return to Chinese sovereignty, reports Efe news.
Taiwan’s China-policy making Mainland Affairs Council had announced the creation of this department on June 18 “to correspond to the CCP’s (Chinese Communist Party) imposition of the National Security Law on Hong Kong, an action of which has caused unrest in its society”.
“It aims to provide friendly and streamlined services and basic care for Hong Kong citizens arriving in Taiwan in need of assistance, as well as for Hong Kong-based multinational companies and international corporations relocating to Taiwan,” the Council said in a statement.
The project also hopes to “attract Hong Kong capital and talent to strengthen and expand Taiwan’s economic development” and consists of three sections dedicated to “consultation services”, “program management”, and “administrative affairs”.
The new office, which is officially known as the Taiwan-Hong Kong Office for Exchanges and Services, is located at the headquarters of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and is part of the Hong Kong Humanitarian Aid Project.
“This is an important landmark for the government to further realize its support for Hong Kong’s democracy and freedom,” Chen Ming-tong, the head of the Mainland Affairs Council, told reporters on Wednesday.
He said that the Chinese law “not only targets residents in Hong Kong” but is “also an order issued by the Celestial Empire to people all over the world”, in a reference to China’s government.
“The whole world needs to be concerned” about the law, Chen added, according to Taiwan’s official agency, CNA.
The law establishes sentences of up to life imprisonment for “acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security”.
Moreover, any person convicted under the law will not be allowed to stand as a candidate in the elections for Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.
The next elections to elect the members of this body are scheduled in September.
A large part of the local population, as well as journalists, activists and lawyers, fear that the new legislation will undermine the freedoms enjoyed by the city and many Hong Kongers are now considering emigrating from the city.