“Condom” has been popularised as a political if vulgar term by “yellow” anti-government activists, meaning someone who has been used, then thrown away and forgotten. Recently, for example, in an open letter, former district councillor Lester Shum, who is close to finishing a six-month jail term for taking part in an unauthorised assembly, has questioned whether he himself has become “a condom”. Shum is not the only one. The thought has weighed heavily on the minds of activists who have fled to Taiwan, as some anti-government commentators have complained. Despite rhetorical promises of support before her re-election early last year, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party-led government have done little to help them settle down. Tsai’s treatment of Hong Kong activists may be cynical, but it is reflective of the deep ambivalence among Taiwanese towards them, according to a survey by four US-based scholars, Lev Nachman, Shelley Rigger, John Mok Chit Wai and Nathan Chan Kar Ming. According to their survey summary in the Foreign Policy journal, only 29 per cent agree Taiwan has a responsibility to help them, while 33 per cent disagree. The rest are “ambivalent”. Generally, the Taiwanese population prefers symbolic rather than substantive assistance for Hongkongers. Asked whether Taiwan was doing enough to assist Hongkongers, 28 per cent said “yes” and 29 per cent said “no”, while the majority again expressed ambivalence. DPP voters tended to show greater support for Hongkongers, with 40 per cent saying Taiwan had an obligation to help. But even among these, the majority did not think assistance was an obligation. In general, only 36 per cent of Taiwanese support Hongkongers emigrating to the island, while 23 per cent oppose it. The largest group, 42 per cent, are “ambivalent”. Like locals everywhere, many are afraid so many new immigrants could compete against them, for jobs and housing. “[Taiwanese] are more likely to see potential for economic competition that could hurt their interests,” the four wrote. “One of the most competitive areas of Taiwan’s economy is the housing market,” they wrote. “A wave of immigrants from Hong Kong would likely push prices even higher, so it’s no surprise only 25 per cent of Taiwanese favour allowing Hongkongers to buy into that competitive market.” It’s always easy to support people from afar, but Hong Kong activists will not find much support up close in Taiwan.