Taiwan “adjusts” its operations in Hong Kong by refusing the “one-China pledge” in exchange for work visas

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said on Sunday (June 20) that the Hong Kong government has repeatedly imposed unreasonable political conditions on the visas of Taiwan office staff in Hong Kong since July 2018, requiring them to sign the “one-China undertaking”, which has prevented Taiwan’s staff in Hong Kong from renewing their stay and taking up their posts.

In a written statement released on Sunday, the Land Commission stressed that Taiwan and Hong Kong originally established offices based on the principle of mutual benefit. The Land Commission said that since the establishment of the Hong Kong office, the Taiwan side has always insisted on serving the people, and all activities comply with the law and have never exceeded the scope of its operational functions.

According to the statement, the Hong Kong government has set unreasonable political conditions for the visas of Taiwan personnel stationed in Hong Kong since July 2018, requiring applicants to sign a “one-China undertaking”, which has prevented Taiwan’s personnel from renewing their stay and taking up their posts, affecting the rotation and normal operation of the Taiwan office in Hong Kong.

The Taiwan Land Commission said that the Hong Kong government has thus violated the contents of the 2011 exchange of letters between Taiwan and Hong Kong, and is responsible for the damage to Taiwan-Hong Kong relations and democratic rights.

The Land Commission said that the Taiwan side insisted on the unreasonable political suppression of its staff in Hong Kong by forcing them to sign a “kind of undertaking”, and warned and condemned the Chinese Communist authorities and the Hong Kong government.

The Taiwan government expressed its gratitude to the staff of the Taiwan Affairs Commission’s Hong Kong office for their unyielding commitment to service in the face of repression by the Chinese and Hong Kong governments. The Land Commission said the Hong Kong office will need to make adjustments to the way it conducts a number of operations in light of the impediments to the arrival of its accredited staff, but will still maintain necessary operations and “provide uninterrupted and uncompromised service to the people.”

The Land Commission said the Hong Kong office will adjust the way it conducts business starting this Monday (June 21). The statement did not elaborate further on the adjustments, but said that Land Commission Chairman Qiu Taisan will hold a press conference on Monday to further explain related matters.

Taiwan established mutual offices with Hong Kong and Macau respectively through an exchange of letters in July 2011 during Ma Ying-jeou’s presidency of Taiwan. Macau suspended the operation of its economic and cultural offices in Taiwan from June 19 before Taiwan’s Land Commission announced the restructuring of its operations in Hong Kong.

Previously, Hong Kong announced on May 21 this year that it would cease the operation of the Hong Kong office in Taiwan. At the time, the Hong Kong government accused Taiwan of “repeatedly and violently interfering in Hong Kong affairs, causing irreparable damage to Hong Kong-Taiwan relations.” The closure of Hong Kong’s office in Taiwan was a response to the massive pro-democracy protests in Taiwan, from official to civil solidarity.

Before Macau closed its office in Taiwan, the two sides had a “mutual card” in terms of visas for personnel posted there. But a Central News Agency report quoted unnamed Macau sources as saying that the Macau government followed in the footsteps of the Hong Kong government and closed its office in Taiwan first and foremost in relation to the general political climate of poor cross-strait relations. After all, relations with Taiwan are sensitive and Beijing has the lead on this.