HK bookseller Lam granted visa extension
Taipei, May 14 (CNA) Former Causeway Bay Books owner Lam Wing Kee (林榮基), who came to Taiwan in April after fleeing Hong Kong over fears of being persecuted by China, will be allowed to stay in Taiwan longer to give him time to find a way to settle here.
Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said that after consulting with the council, the National Immigration Agency has decided to extend Lam's visa by another two months, allowing him to stay until July 14.
Lam's current visa was originally set to expire on Tuesday.
Chiu said the extension was granted because Lam needs more time to apply for a work permit that qualifies him for residency in Taiwan, adding that the government is willing to provide assistance if he has any procedural questions.
Asked about his next move, Lam told CNA by telephone that he will continue to try to look for a job that meets the government's requirements for a work permit for foreigners, while seeking to make progress on his long-term plan of opening a bookstore in Taiwan.
Lam said his savings will be enough to support him for another one to two years thanks to Taiwan's relatively low cost of living.
He also revealed that he has moved out of a hotel he had been staying at in Taipei's Ximending area last weekend and into a friend's house in Xindian District in New Taipei.
Lam fled to Taiwan on April 25 due to fears of being sent to China under a controversial extradition bill Hong Kong is likely to pass in the upcoming months.
He is purportedly listed as a wanted person by the Chinese authorities after he failed to return to China following his conditional release in June 2016 from months-long detention for selling titles critical of the Chinese government and mailing them to people in China.
The 63-year-old was granted a one-month visa upon his arrival in Taiwan and is hoping to find a job that would qualify him for residency in Taiwan.
Taiwan's lack of a clear legal framework to help people who are vulnerable to political persecution get asylum in the country has meant that Lam's best chance to stay in Taiwan is by getting residency through a work permit.
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