Taiwan to cut back on services as staff leave in one-china snub

Local | Maisy Mok 22 Jun 2021

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hong Kong will scale down its services after seven out of eight Taiwanese staffers left the city, with some services moving online.

Seven of the eight Taiwanese staff left Hong Kong on Sunday because they were requested to sign a "one-China" statement for the renewal of their visas.

The remaining staff is Ni Bochia, the head of the office's economic division, whose visa will expire in a month.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council wrote in a statement yesterday that the Hong Kong office in Admiralty's Lippo Centre will continue to offer consular-related services, such as passport replacements for Taiwanese and visa applications, as well as emergency support.

However, certain operations will see adjustments made.

Mainlanders will have to apply for Taiwan entry permits online, and interviews for reunions and marriage registrations have also moved online.

The council will entrust or subsidize personnel from Taiwan to plan and organize art and cultural activities in Hong Kong and Macau.

It will also supervise a university entrance committee to improve student enrollment procedures. An online platform, as well as a service hotline, will be set up for enrollment.

The head of the council, Chiu Tai-san, said Taiwan would not renew the lease for the office on the 40th floor at Lippo Centre in Admiralty when it ends next month. However, it has plans to continue renting the office for Taiwan's National Immigration Agency on the 11th floor of the same building for six more months after the lease expires in August.

The lease for Kwang Hwa Information and Culture Center in Central will end in 2023, and the Taiwan administration plans to renew the lease.

Staff working on the 40th floor of the Lippo Centre will continue serving at the Kwang Hwa Information and Culture Center.

"The 'one China letter of undertaking' is a political obstacle that the Hong Kong government has set which aims to belittle [Taiwan's] national character and morals, forcing our office's staff to bow down to Beijing," the Mainland Affairs Council said yesterday. "We of course firmly reject it."

The council also said Beijing is "without a question" behind the request to sign the "one-China" statement.

"The Hong Kong government cooperating with the Chinese Communist Party to exert pressure on Taiwan has once again proven that Hong Kong's one country, two systems has ceased to exist except in name," the council said.

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