Taiwan has become an increasingly popular immigration destination for a growing wave of Hong Kong citizens leaving the crowded and pricey autonomous Chinese city.
Earlier this month, Hong Kong's government said the most common destinations for the emigrants are Australia, Canada and the United States.
But Taiwan is catching up. A new report released by the self-ruled island's government shows a significant jump in residency applications from Hong Kongers and citizens of the smaller autonomous Chinese city of Macau.
Taiwan's National Immigration Agency said it received 3,195 residency applications from Hong Kong and Macau in 2012, a 30 percent increase from the year before.
Hong Kongers who have made the move to Taiwan say the island has several key advantages over their hometown.
Speaking to VOA in Taipei, U.S.-educated businessman Tim Wong said Taiwan's democratic political system is appealing.
"Taiwan is the only place where the Chinese community enjoys its own system of democracy. That democracy is not dominated by any ideology. I came to Taiwan to live my life in a place of mutual benefit and mutual contribution."
Wong relocated to Taipei last year to start a 3-D printing and design company with a partner from Japan. He said Taiwan is supportive of small business.
Another Hong Konger, Ms. Koo, emigrated in March and opened a café and bookstore in Taiwan's southern city of Tainan. She told VOA that she chose Taiwan because life is more affordable than in Hong Kong, while the language and culture are similar in both places.
In a report published Monday, Taiwan newspaper United Daily News quoted a local immigration agent as saying some Hong Kongers living on the island also have been applying to become permanent residents. The agent said those people include Hong Kongers who have worked in Taiwan for at least a year and prefer the lifestyle, as well as those who marry Taiwan citizens.