A Taiwan official yesterday appealed to Hong Kong residents who want to work in the island after the handover to hurry and apply for the Overseas Chinese identity certificates. Ming Chen-hua, vice-minister of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission, said any permanent Hong Kong residents who wanted to work in Taiwan should apply for the certificates or they would face more restrictions after the handover. 'You have nothing to lose in getting one,' said Mr Ming. 'After June 30, we cannot issue the certificates.' Although Taiwan officials said they had no accurate figures of how many Hong Kong residents worked in Taiwan, they said 40,000 to 50,000 were known to be employed there. Since Taiwan promulgated the Hong Kong and Macau Relations Act last month, the number of applications had surged dramatically, Mr Ming said. 'Almost every day we are processing 2,000 applications,' he said. Hong Kong students who have been issued the certificates would also be treated as 'overseas Chinese students' by the Taiwanese education authorities and continue to enjoy some special privileges such as subsidised tuition fees and scholarships. According to Liu Lien-hwa, a director of the commission, any Hong Kong citizens with permanent resident status are eligible to apply. A certificate would normally be issued in about 10 days. After July 1, Hong Kong residents who did not have the certificates would face the same restrictions as foreigners. Taiwan imposes tough restrictions on foreigners and imported workers. Under the Hong Kong and Macau Relations Act, Hong Kong is considered a part of mainland China after the handover and no longer an 'overseas Chinese territory' as previously defined under Taiwan's laws. Although Taiwan has not imposed new travel restrictions on Hong Kong residents after the handover, Mr Ming said the certificates would benefit Hong Kong residents interested in working on the island. 'The certificate will guarantee its holder that they will enjoy the same privileges as an overseas Chinese after June 30,' Mr Ming said.