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Taiwan criticizes Hong Kong for debarring envoy

Hong Kong government has refused to issue work visa to Taiwanese representative

MAC Minister Chen Ming-tong 

MAC Minister Chen Ming-tong  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has criticized the Hong Kong government for not issuing a work visa to its envoy, who was supposed to have been posted to the territory two years ago.

Appointed as the Taiwan representative to Hong Kong in June 2018, Lu Chang-shui (盧長水) has never been able to take on his duties since the Hong Kong authorities have refused to issue a work visa. The representative office had been led by acting Representative Kao Ming-tsun(高銘村) over the past two years, but a recent report said Kao has returned to Taiwan due to the expiration of his work visa.

Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), minister of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the top government agency handling cross-strait affairs, said on Thursday (July 16) the Hong Kong authorities have attempted to impose “political conditions” in the document authorizing the assignment of Taiwan’s envoy. Chen did not elaborate on what those conditions are, but it is reported the Hong Kong government has asked Taiwan envoys to sign a document agreeing to the “one China principle,” which suggests Taiwan and China belong to one country.

The minister condemned the Hong Kong government for undermining the operations of the Taiwan representative office as well as exchanges between Taiwan and Hong Kong. Chen stressed that he “deeply disapproves of” the Hong Kong authorities’ handling of the matter.

The representative office was established following bilateral negotiations and the signing of a treaty, said Chen. He added that it is unacceptable for the Hong Kong government to try to shoehorn in new rules.

Hong Kong's change in attitude coincides with the strained relationship between Taiwan and China after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office in 2016. The island nation’s ties with Hong Kong are facing even more uncertainty now that a national security law has been imposed on the city by Beijing.

Having issued a travel warning for Hong Kong earlier this month, MAC on Thursday released instructions on Hong Kong’s national security law for Taiwanese. Those who have previously backed Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests in Taiwan, or who have expressed their support for Taiwanese independence publicly on social media, may be affected by the law, MAC said in the instructions.