A surge in emigration to Taiwan by Hongkongers in recent years can be attributed to the desire of Hong Kong people for a better lifestyle and lower cost of living, a Taiwan official said.
Eric Chu Li-luan, chairman of Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang party and the mayor of New Taipei City, said in Hong Kong Monday that Taiwan has been attracting more immigrants as well as visitors from Hong Kong over the past ten years.
A flood of mainland visitors to Hong Kong may be prompting locals to escape the overcrowded city and seek a leisurely lifestyle in Taiwan, Chu said, according to Apple Daily.
At a forum organized by the Asia-Pacific Taiwan Federation of Industry & Commerce, Chu pointed out that Taiwan hosted a total of 1.25 million Hong Kong visitors in 2014, compared to about 350,000 ten years ago.
In addition to cheaper prices and friendliness of the Taiwan people, the island’s democracy system is also an attraction for visitors and potential immigrants, he said.
Taiwan’s biggest advantage is its people, rather than the island’s natural scenery or historical sites, Chu said.
About 7,600 Hong Kong people emigrated to Taiwan last year, compared to around 1,600 ten years ago, according to him.
Taiwan is good place to live, Chu said, suggesting that more Hongkongers can look at moving to the island.
Taiwan now has no limit on mainland visitors traveling under the Individual Visit scheme, but the island caps the number of those traveling with tourism groups at 5,000 a day.
Compared to tens of millions of mainlanders visiting Hong Kong annually, only some three million mainlanders came to Taiwan last year, Chu noted.
It means less overcrowding compared to Hong Kong.
While cross-border visitors are welcome, authorities must strive for quality tourism and also take into account the feelings of locals, Chu said.
Chu, who was on a three-day visit to Hong Kong, is seen as a potential candidate in Taiwan’s 2016 presidential election.
Asked if he supports the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, Chu only said that he supports and cares about everything that is related to democracy, as it is a universal value.
Meanwhile, following a dinner banquet with Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying Monday night, Chu said the two only discussed issues such as social welfare and medical care, and nothing on political reforms and the Individual Visit scheme.
Leung did not try to convey anything on behalf of Beijing, according to Chu.
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