TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is reportedly considering expelling Hong Kong diplomats by ceasing to issue work visas as a response to the Hong Kong government prohibiting the nation's representative from assuming his duties for more than two years.
“We need to take action to protect national integrity,” the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the top government agency handling cross-strait affairs, stated on Sunday (July 19), according to CNA. The agency did not confirm the rumor but said its counter-measure should be in line with the principle of equality and reciprocity.
MAC Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) has openly criticized Hong Kong authorities for refusing to issue a work visa to the Taiwanese envoy, Lu Chang-shui (盧長水), who was appointed in June 2018. He said during a press briefing last week that the appointment of representatives between Taiwan and Hong Kong is based on a treaty, but the Hong Kong government attempted to impose “political conditions” on Taiwan that are not part of the agreement.
Chen did not elaborate on what those conditions were. Yet local media later revealed that the Hong Kong government has asked Taiwanese envoys to sign a document agreeing to the “one China principle,” which suggests that Taiwan and China belong to one country.
Acting Representative Kao Ming-tsun (高銘村) has recently returned to Taiwan due to the expiration of his work visa, but it is reported that he was also asked to sign a similar document which he refused. Currently, the Taiwanese representative office in Hong Kong has operated largely unhindered even though only one of its five divisions is still headed by a directing officer.
Official ties between Taiwan and Hong Kong have declined following the increasingly strained cross-strait relationship, and they are now facing even more turbulence after the contentious national security law was implemented in the city earlier this month. It is reported that some staffers of the Hong Kong representative office to Taiwan have already departed from the country.