17 February 2019
Li Ao (left) has given up his application to immigrate to Hong Kong, while Liu Zaifu has had his application rejected. Photos: Wikipedia,
Li Ao (left) has given up his application to immigrate to Hong Kong, while Liu Zaifu has had his application rejected. Photos: Wikipedia,

Why famed Taiwan historian dropped bid to migrate to HK

A well-known historian in Taiwan has given up his attempt to immigrate to Hong Kong, saying the way immigration officials have dealt with his application was insulting, Apple Daily reported Friday, citing a story run in Asia Fortune.

Li Ao, 79, a writer and social commentator considered by some to be one of the most important modern Chinese essayists, was born in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, and lived in Beijing and Shanghai before he moved to Taiwan with his parents in 1949.

He was jailed by the Kuomintang government in his younger days and has written many articles and books that criticized the party and its leader, Chiang Kai-shek.

Hong Kong movie director Ng See-yuen encouraged Li in 2012 to apply to emigrate to Hong Kong through the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme.

In October that year, Li submitted his application. Ng wrote a recommendation letter to the director of immigration on Li’s behalf as a justice of the peace and chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers. 

Several Hong Kong celebrities, including former chief executive Tung Chee-wah, knew of Li’s application, and the initial response from an official in the Immigration Department was positive, the report said.

The scheme is quota-based and seeks to attract highly skilled or talented people to settle in Hong Kong so as to enhance the city’s economic competitiveness in the global market. Applicants are not required to have been offered a job in Hong Kong.

Li eventually received a notice from the department requiring him to provide copies of his works and explain why he was put in jail.

He was reportedly upset about the requests and said the Hong Kong government sees those who have been in jail as bad people, because it does not understand what a political prisoner is. He said it is difficult for him to prove that he is a good person.

Li said what is even more insulting is that the department asked him to prove his proficiency in English.

He finally gave up the idea of relocating to Hong Kong.

Apple Daily said it had also learned that Liu Zaifu, 74 — an expert on Chinese literature who was director of the Institute of Literature at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and has been in exile since the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989 — has had his application to immigrate to Hong Kong under the scheme rejected.

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