It's been a reasonable interlude, but if I may step in for a moment.
It's 8 or so years since I stepped off the ROC bound for HK, which I loathed then and still don't much like all these years later. And now I'm a permanent resident. I am (still, for now) in finance, so that may obscure my vision. But I do have a China studies background, and increasingly illiterate in Chinese.
I think the pull, especially in the period you initially mentioned, Omni, was as smart European and Yanks (apologies, that's my blanket term for North Americans, all of youse) realised what was ahead, and like rats out of a sinking ship, they sent their recently minted or minting and pampered kids here to get a job, any job. Do their China time. Or even, just get a damned job. It being summer, my office is packed with eager eyed youngsters from the old world and ranked universities, all working finance type hours for zip, just to get the experience. They'll combine the office time with some considered forays into China, usually following links and contacts made during their internship. Sometimes they get lucky, and a hole opens up.
I also heard from a friend in the Macau Tourist Board that the number of applicants from Portugal for Macau gigs, especially government jobs, where they have some advantage given sunset laws about the use of Portuguese, have blown out exponentially, much like unemployment in all of the PIGS.
Of late, I've also noticed through head hunter bulletins and people I meet that there's a considerable number of big bank and other types tying themselves to China, and with a longer term to Asia in general, as SE Asia is "indisputably" best placed demographically for the next number of years.
Aside from unemployment, why?
First up. Taiwan (mercifully) isn't China, but HK sort of is. The focus in HK is constantly on China. The rule of law thing still applies, and so China watchers of old have been re-inflated here in HK in recent years. There's also old money here.
Second: Immigration is amazingly simple. You got a job, you get one year, and you can stay that period even if you lose that job tomorrow. After seven years, with far less effort than applying for a Taiwanese visa for my Thai passported daughter, I slipped some forms, was forced to mutter an explanation about why I couldn't sign the I don't have a crim record form, and was granted permanent residence.
I have had credit cards since I arrived. Under my name, obviously. I have no question about asking for a mortgage, if I so desired. In fact, I have all the freedoms I would have in my home country, and far more than I could possibly dream of in Taiwan. Obviously voting might be an issue, if democracy existed here. Only in the sense that I'd be forced to consider for a moment if I could be arsed getting off the couch to vote for one sad, corrupt bastard over another. It's compulsory in Australia.
My daughter is about to enter high school here. i won't go into details, but it's an English curriculum, which I want for my Thai mother-toungued daughter, but with Chinese (Putonghua - sorry, it just is) as a compulsory second language (third in her case), and the school has a reputation for being an academically minded establishment. AND it's amazingly cheaper than any English option I could think of in Taiwan, or Thailand (~NT$100,000 a year).
Should Taiwan be doing more and better to compete with Hong Kong in attracting international talent? Could it have realistic hopes of competing? What could it offer to make itself more attractive than Hong Kong?
Yes, and yes again. Sort out the stupid immigration laws, free up access to financial institutions and offer better schooling options for expats. Can you get your own phone line without a promise from your spouse to cover you if you run in Taiwan these days? On first try?
If you're not married to a local in Taiwan, it's a hard road. If you are, you still only get half of what you get on your own merit in HK. That said, I frequently return to Taiwan. Love the place to bits. I'd be back in a flash, but not without some serious changes.