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Last Taiwanese official in Hong Kong forced home

2021-08-01
Focus Taiwan
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Photo courtesy of China News Service
Photo courtesy of China News Service

Taipei, July 30 (CNA) Taiwan's representative office in Hong Kong no longer has any Taiwanese officials as the last of them was forced home Friday afternoon due to the refusal of Hong Kong authorities to extend his visa.

In a Facebook post, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said that Ni Bo-chia, the commercial attache of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Hong Kong, returned to Taipei at 3:25 p.m.

The development left TECO Hong Kong with only local staff.

The MAC, which administers TECO Hong Kong, said in a separate statement, however, that the operations of TECO Hong Kong have not yet been affected, and that the government has drafted a plan in preparation of such worst-case scenarios.

The MAC urged "relevant parties" to consider the welfare of the people in Taiwan and Hong Kong and stop political actions that will harm long-term relations between Taiwan and Hong Kong.

"TECO Hong Kong plays an important part in the positive development of Taiwan-Hong Kong relations," the MAC said.

"Both the Taiwanese and Hong Kong people would hate to see the office incapacitated due to unnecessary political considerations," it said.

TECO-Hong Kong, which represents Taiwan's interests in the Chinese special administrative region, would normally have 19 Taiwanese staffers from different government agencies.

They have been forced to return home one after another in recent years, however, after Hong Kong authorities refused to extend their visas and did not issue visas to their successors.

In June, MAC chief Chiu Tai-san confirmed media reports that the Hong Kong government began to ask Taiwanese officials to sign an affidavit recognizing Beijing's "One China" principle in July 2018 as a precondition for a visa.

"Taiwan will not accept such a political condition," Chiu said at that time.

Hong Kong-Taiwan relations began to sour in 2014 during the Umbrella Revolution after the Hong Kong government accused Taiwan of supporting violent protesters and political dissidents in Hong Kong.

The situation got worse in 2019 when Hong Kong was unhappy with Taiwan's support for the months-long pro-democracy movement.

The Hong Kong government closed its office in Taiwan in May.

The same situation is playing out in Macao, where TECO-Macao has only four Taiwanese left since June, with the longest visa among them valid until October 2022.

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