Home book seller Hong Kong bookseller applies for permanent residency

Hong Kong bookseller applies for permanent residency

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CONTINUED BY CHINA:
Lam Wing-kei initially refused an offer of asylum and has been staying in Taiwan on a temporary permit since 2019, an official said.

  • By Chen Yu-fu / Staff Reporter

A Hong Kong bookseller who moved to Taipei in 2019 after being prosecuted by Chinese authorities has recently applied for permanent residency in Taiwan, a government source said on Monday.

The move came after Lam Wing-kei (林榮基), a former director of Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay Books, initially did not accept “humanitarian aid” political asylum offered by the government.

In 2015, Lam, another Causeway Bay Books shareholder and three staff members were reported missing and later confirmed to be in the custody of mainland Chinese authorities, who accused them of selling books about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that are banned in mainland China.

Photo: Johnson Lai, AP

Lam was imprisoned for nearly eight months, and the CCP demanded that he disclose bookstore customers and their orders in exchange for his release. In June 2016, Lam returned to Hong Kong, his criminal record showing a conviction in China for an “illegal book-selling operation”.

When widespread protests against a proposed extradition bill to mainland China rocked the territory in 2019, Lam fled to Taiwan on April 25, saying he feared being prosecuted again by authorities in the continent.

With the support of a crowdfunding campaign, Lam reopened Causeway Bay Books in Taipei in April 2020.

An unnamed official in Taipei said last week that the central government helped Lam apply for permanent residency.

Along with helping other Hong Kongers based in Taiwan, Lam has worked hard to run his bookstore in Taipei, bringing his principles and ideas to Taiwanese one book at a time, the official said.

While often speaking about his experiences in China, Lam helps Taiwan protect its freedom and democracy, they said.

Lam, as a “modest gentleman”, initially refused to accept the offer of political asylum and has been staying in the country since 2019 on a temporary residence permit, they added.

Lam had applied to the Culture Ministry for permanent residency as a “special professional” in the field of culture, the official said.

If the ministry approves his application, it will forward the case to the National Immigration Agency, which will issue a permanent resident card, the official said.

Government data shows that 11,173 Hong Kongers hold residence permits in Taiwan, including 1,685 who were granted permanent residency last year, an annual high.

In the first seven months of this year, 4,143 Hong Kongers received temporary residence permits and 892 were granted permanent residency, according to the data.

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