‘Taiwan belittled by Hong Kong over visa row’

Taipei on Monday said some of the services it provides in its Hong Kong office will be moved online after most of its staff returned to Taiwan.

The Mainland Affairs Council in Taipei earlier said the decision to send employees of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office home was made in light of “unreasonable political conditions” laid down by the Hong Kong government.

The office said its staff had been asked to sign a statement to support the “One China” policy in order to have their work visas extended.

Seven employees left the SAR on Sunday, with just one member of staff from Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs remaining for now.

The visa of that worker will expire next month.

Speaking at a press conference in Taipei, the council’s minister, Chiu Tai-san, accused the SAR government of “belittling” Taiwan.

He said the incident once again shows the “One country, Two systems” principle exists in name only, as there’s no doubt that Beijing calls all the shots.

Chiu said Taiwanese personnel won’t bow to pressure by signing the “One China” statement.

But he said there are no plans to shut the office in Hong Kong, despite the SAR’s decision to close its office in Taiwan after accusing Taiwanese authorities of interfering in the territory’s affairs.

We think exchanges with Hong Kong in areas such as finance, trade and culture are beneficial to both sides, he said.

The Mainland Affairs Council chief said for now, the recruitment of Hong Kong students and certain immigration services will move online, while cultural promotion will be outsourced to art groups.

But the office will still be providing passport, visa and emergency support for Taiwan people.

Unless there are other political hurdles that make us unable to continue with these businesses, we have not considered closing down the office entirely, the Taiwan official said.

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