Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), is not a United Nations member and therefore does have a United Nations High Commission for Refugees office. However, the country has made great strides to provide for refugees all over the world. Here are 10 facts about refugees in Taiwan:
- Taiwan does not yet accept refugees into the country, but, in July 2016, draft legislation for a refugee law passed its first of three legislative committee reviews. This new law, if passed, would ease the asylum process into Taiwan and allow it to take in more refugees.
- However, in 1981, Taiwan was one of the only Asian countries to grant temporary asylum to refugees and offered permanent settlements to all who reach its shores. However, this stopped after several hijackings of planes by Chinese asylum seekers in the 1990s.
- In addition, in January 2009, the Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to the National Immigration Act to allow anyone who is persecuted in their country to apply for residency. This really only involved the neighboring those from Myanmar, Tibet, Chinese dissidents or others in a “refugee-like situation,” rather than actual refugees.
- Although Taiwan currently does not accept refugees, since 1963, approximately 150,000 illegal Chinese immigrants have entered the country seeking refuge from the communist government.
- As a result of this huge annual illegal immigration rate, Taiwan has cracked down on illegal Chinese immigrants since 2003. This crackdown includes the trend of “foreign brides” that has risen in the last two decades.
- To compensate for not accepting refugees, two Taiwanese organizations, The Rising People Foundation and a nonprofit organization established by William Hsieh, have launched “Casa di Love,” to build a refugee facility on the Italian island of Lampedusa. The organizations will spend $0.37 million over the next three years to build the facility that will give shelter to refugees all over the world.
- In addition, Taiwan donated 10 prefabricated houses to Caritas, an organization in Jordan, to provide housing for 41 Syrian refugees.
- In 2013, Taiwan donated 5,000 sets of solar-LED lights to the Azraq Refugee Camp. In 2015, Taiwan signed a $100,000 grant with the International Medical Corps Jordan Country Office to support Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
- With the recent movements trying to ban refugees in the United States, Taiwan is now trying to push its own refugee law through the legislative process to allow refugees to seek permanent settlements in the country. Taiwan hopes the acceptance of refugees will stimulate the economy and help the country to become a tech power and be able to further separate itself from China.
- Although Taiwan helps refugees all around the world, many of its own citizens have fled the country due to China’s hold on the territory. More than half of all Taiwan refugees reside in the United States, accounting for around 360,000 Taiwanese people.
These 10 facts about refugees in Taiwan show the evolution of Taiwan from a place of solitude to quite the opposite in the 1990s, to once again trying to reinstate the country as a “land of fortune” for both global refugees and its own citizens.
– Amira Wynn