Taiwan rejects residency for Hong Kong film tycoon Charles Heung on national security grounds

Mr Charles Heung applied for residency last year on grounds that his wife, Ms Tiffany Chan, is Taiwanese. PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan has refused to grant residency to a famous Hong Kong entertainment tycoon - whose family are vocally pro-Beijing - on national security grounds, the government and media said on Thursday (Feb 25).

The National Immigration Agency said it denied residency applications by China Star Entertainment chairman Charles Heung and his son Jackie, citing a law barring residency for Hong Kongers who raise "national welfare, public safety and order" concerns.

The agency declined to elaborate on the precise reason for the rejection when reached by Agence France-Presse, saying that it was based on "overall considerations".

However, multiple local media outlets reported that the two Heungs were considered potential national security risks because of their close ties with Chinese authorities.

Mr Charles Heung applied for residency last year on grounds that his wife, Ms Tiffany Chan, is Taiwanese.

Mr Heung became a successful actor and producer during the golden age of Hong Kong cinema in the mid-80s and 90s when its film industry was a global powerhouse.

His entertainment group played a key role in building the careers of film stars such as Stephen Chow, Jet Li and Chow Yun Fat.

He and his family are vocally pro-Beijing and have been critical of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.

Mr Heung was among a group of entertainment figures who gave a cheque to the families of seven police officers who were convicted of beating a pro-democracy activist in 2014.

His wife publicly criticised the huge and often violent democracy protests that broke out in 2019.

Their son, Mr Jackie Heung, is also a national committee member of the All-China Youth Federation, which is linked to the Chinese Communist Youth League.

Taiwan has emerged as something of a sanctuary for Hong Kong's beleaguered democracy protesters.

Last year, nearly 11,000 Hong Kongers moved to Taiwan - almost double the number of 2019 - after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the city.

Beijing, which regards Taiwan as its own territory and has vowed to one day seize the island, loathes President Tsai Ing-wen.

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