| 26 February 2024, Monday |

Taiwanese staff to leave Hong Kong office in ‘one China’ row

According to a senior official, Taiwanese workers working at the island’s representative office in Hong Kong will begin departing the Chinese-run city on Sunday after the government there asked that its officials sign a declaration endorsing Beijing’s claim to Taiwan.

Chinese-run Hong Kong has become a source of friction between Taipei and Beijing, particularly since Taiwan denounced a Beijing-imposed security regulation and began allowing Hong Kongers to live on the island.

Only local personnel would remain at the office, according to Lin Fei-fan, deputy secretary general of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

“This is because the Chinese Communist Party and the Hong Kong government continue to force our personnel stationed in Hong Kong to sign a ‘one China commitment letter’ to recognize ‘one China’,” he said on his Facebook page.

“As a political prerequisite for the visa renewal, we will of course not accept it!”

China sees democratically-ruled Taiwan as part of “one China” and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

Lin said Taiwan would never accept “one China” or “one country, two systems”, Beijing’s way of running Hong Kong under Chinese sovereignty it hopes to one day apply to the island.

A senior Taiwan official familiar with the matter told Reuters seven Taiwan officials will return on Sunday afternoon, with the last remaining official to come back after visa expiry next month.

“It is not acceptable for us to be politically diminished,” the official said, pointing to the request to sign the document.

In a statement earlier on Sunday, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said that since July 2018 the Hong Kong government has “repeatedly set unreasonable political conditions for staff visas for our Hong Kong office, demanding the signing of a ‘One China Commitment Letter'”.

The Hong Kong office would “modify its business handling manner” beginning Monday, it noted, adding that “essential operations” will be maintained.

It further stated that no such “one China” letter will be signed by Taiwanese employees.

Last month, Hong Kong shut down its Taiwan representative office, condemning Taipei for interfering in internal affairs in “gross” ways, including with its offer to help “violent” demonstrators, which Taiwan denied.

On Wednesday, the government of Macau followed suit.

  • Reuters