Hong Kong demanded Taiwanese staff sign commitment to Beijing’s one-China principle in visa renewals.
Taiwan's Hong Kong office to continue with single officer.
Taiwan says it has pulled back all but one staff member from its Hong Kong trade office after they refused to sign a commitment to the one-China principle required for visa renewals.
The officials returned from Hong Kong on Sunday, leaving just one colleague at the office, which acts as Taiwan’s diplomatic presence.
In a statement, Taiwan’s mainland affairs council said the Hong Kong government had “repeatedly imposed unreasonable political conditions on the visa applications”. This has included a requirement since 2018 that staff sign a commitment to Beijing’s one-China principle, which includes the claim that Taiwan is a part of China.
“As a result, our staff cannot continue to stay and continue their posts,” the council said.
In a virtual press conference, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) chief Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Hong Kong has only one Taiwanese officer left but it will continue to serve the public.
The office still has local staff, but Chiu did not say how many people are employed there at present.
TECO-Hong Kong, administered by the MAC, represents Taiwan's interests in the Chinese special administrative region and would normally have 19 Taiwanese staffers under normal circumstances.
Chiu's statement came after seven Taiwanese officials were forced to return home on Sunday due to the refusal of Hong Kong authorities to extend their visas, bringing the total number of Taiwanese officials forced home with the same reason to 11 since 2020.
The Hong Kong government began to ask Taiwanese staffers to sign an affidavit recognizing Beijing's "One China" principle in July 2018 as a precondition for a visa, Chiu said, and Taiwan will not accept that political condition.
In terms of the services the office will continue to provide, Chiu said the location and telephone numbers of TECO-Hong Kong will remain unchanged, and it will continue to provide consular-related services, such as issuing passports and visas and authenticating documents.
Applications by Hong Kong residents for visitor entry permits will now be processed online, while applications for residency in Taiwan will still be handled at the TECO-Hong Kong office, he said.