DPP lawmakers still seeking consensus on HK, Macau residency plan

05/03/2022 07:28 PM
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CNA file photo
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Taipei, May 3 (CNA) Lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are still negotiating over a stalled plan to ease permanent residency requirements for professionals from Hong Kong and Macau, one of the party's legislative leaders said Tuesday.

In an interview Tuesday, secretary-general of the DPP's legislative caucus Cheng Yun-Peng (鄭運鵬) said that party members held discussions with the relevant government agencies on Monday aimed at resolving their concerns, but had failed to reach "any specific consensus."

During the talks, members of the caucus argued that the proposed permanent residency plan for professionals should be kept separate from a special program Taiwan launched in 2020 to help take in Hong Kong pro-democracy activists, he said.

The new permanent residency program, which was set to be implemented on May 1, would allow people from Hong Kong and Macau who have worked in Taiwan for at least five years and earned at least double the minimum wage in the fifth year to apply for permanent residency.

However, on April 29, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) spokesperson Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) announced that the policy would be put on hold pending further review and public discussion, due to concerns from lawmakers that it posed a national security risk.

Regarding the plan for Hong Kong and Macau professionals, Cheng said he believed that reviews of their permanent residency applications and national security checks should be conducted at the same time.

Concerns over China

Nevertheless, many in the DPP are concerned the changes could allow China-backed companies in Taiwan to recruit people that Beijing had "deployed" in Hong Kong or Macau for many years, allowing them to "infiltrate" the country, he said.

Cheng noted that under Hong Kong's one-way permit system, 150 people can move from mainland China to Hong Kong and establish residency each day.

That amounts to around one million people from the mainland having come to reside in Hong Kong since its handover to China in 1997, which makes it extremely difficult to figure out whether some applicants for Taiwan residency might be problematic, he said, likely referring to if applicants are among that one million.

The policy change in question pertains to a set of guidelines called the "Regulations Governing Permits for Hong Kong and Macao Residents Entering the Taiwan Area and Setting up Residence or Registered Permanent Residence in the Republic of China."

Eligible applicants under current rules

Currently, these rules allow people from Hong Kong and Macau to apply for residency if they have relatives in Taiwan, make a government-approved investment of NT$6 million (US$200,000) or more, are entrepreneurs in certain innovative fields, or have specific skills, technological expertise, or experience.

Residents of Hong Kong and Macau who graduate from Taiwan universities can also apply for permanent residence after having worked in Taiwan for five years, with monthly earnings of at least double the minimum wage in the fifth year, the regulations state.

In Taiwan's political system, government agencies can unilaterally amend "regulations" under their purview but must notify the Legislative Yuan, which can intervene to block the changes if it opposes them.

Amendments to legal acts, by contrast, must proceed through the normal legislative process.

(By Wang Yang-yu and Matthew Mazzetta)

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