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Taiwan attracts high number of immigrants from Hong Kong, Macau

Wednesday, 08 July 2015

TAIPEI: Taiwan has become an increasingly popular immigration destination for residents of Hong Kong and Macau, with the number of Taiwan residency applications from the two cities in 2014 being the highest in more than two decades.

Two years ago, Alfred Tang travelled from Hong Kong to Taiwan, where he fell in love with its friendly people and delicious food. Later, he became a Taiwan citizen.

“Taiwan’s living expenses are not high. It works out to be almost less than half of those in Hong Kong. Transportation and rent are much cheaper than Hong Kong,” said Mr Tang.

However, the main reason he left Hong Kong was because of the huge influx of mainland visitors and residents, who compete with locals for the city’s very finite resources.

The skyrocketing property prices there also made it difficult for his family to sustain a satisfactory quality of live.

“In Taiwan, you can choose to buy your home based on your salary and need in different parts of the island. You have more choices because there is a greater range in housing prices,” he explained.

Mr Tang said he expects more Hong Kongers to follow in his footsteps, especially after the political dissatisfaction demonstrated by the Occupy Central civil unrest. He is now running an immigration consultancy firm to tap into business opportunity.

Last year, Taiwan approved nearly 7,500 residency applications from Hong Kong and Macau, up by more than 60% from the previous year.

Many are students, given that the island offers attractive migrant schemes to draw talent from Hong Kong and Macau whereby they can obtain residency if they work for five consecutive years after graduation.

“Everywhere in the world is trying to attract talent and so is Taiwan," said Immigration Affairs Director of the National Immigration Agency Lee Ling Fong.

"We start with education. Taiwan’s college education level is relatively high in Southeast Asia. Hong Kong and Macau are close to Taiwan in terms of distance, language and cultural background. So we get many students from Hong Kong.”

Currently, the island is considering ways to attract more investor immigrants, including offering residency to entrepreneurs and innovators.

 Features of such schemes will include residency for those with US$65,000-worth of venture capital to invest, which is just one third of the amount currently required for investor immigration.

“We welcome entrepreneurs from Hong Kong and Macau to come to Taiwan and submit their applications to the Investment Commission,” said the director.

The push and pull factors are likely to bring yet more talent and investment from Hong Kong and Macau into the island. Moreover, this may be a good kick-start for the economy, as it will help redress the so-called brain-drain of talent that Taiwan has already lost. 

Source : CNA/pp

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