Beijing has barred three Taiwanese political figures from attending a forum in Hong Kong. Organisers said they received notifications from the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong that the visas for the three speakers were denied at the last minute.

Yang Wei-chung, a former spokesperson for the Kuomintang (KMT) Party, said he was denied a visa at the last minute even though it was already approved. He was expelled by the KMT in June for criticising the party, and was heavily criticised by party members last week for joining a committee to handle the disposal of controversial assets of the KMT.

“I received a notice from the forum organisers saying that Beijing decided to deny me a visa to Hong Kong because I was appointed as a committee member to investigate controversial assets of the KMT,” Yang said on a radio programme on Tuesday. “What happened to ‘Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong’ and the high degree of autonomy?”

Yang Wei-chung
Yang Wei-chung. File

“The Chinese Communist Party chose to stand firmly with the KMT on the party assets issue,” Yang said.

Yang also said that he has not been to Hong Kong for a long time and wished to visit.

Fan Shih-ping, an academic who was a member of a consultative committee of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, and ruling Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Kuo Jeng-liang were also denied visas after Yang. Their visas were also denied at the last minute after receiving approval.

Forum to go ahead

Ultimately, only one out of the four Taiwanese speakers originally scheduled was allowed to come to Hong Kong – Shu Chin-chiang, a former chairman of the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

china liaison office emblem flag
The China Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Photo: HKFP.

The forum hosted by the CS Culture Foundation was initially scheduled for Thursday. The foundation said it will carry on with Shu and three new speakers on Taiwan-China relations.

Charles Ma, an executive with the foundation, told HKFP that the China Liaison Office called them on Tuesday morning.

“We were a bit surprised by the decision,” he said of the decision to bar Yang. “We considered who would be more appropriate to come to Hong Kong when we invited the speakers. We wanted to invite those who speak more fairly and have a neutral point of view, who are not too radical.”

“Professor Fan Shih-ping does not have any party background – he is a scholar of politics, we don’t know what the real reason was behind it,” Ma added.

Susie Chiang Su-hui
Susie Chiang Su-hui. File

The foundation was founded by Susie Chiang Su-hui, the former head of the Kwang Hwa Information and Culture Centre, the press department of the de facto Taiwanese consulate in the city.

When talking to Stand News, Chiang cited a source from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council as saying that all Democratic Progressive Party members who held public or party positions will not be allowed to come to Hong Kong any more.

She also said Fan was barred as Beijing was not happy with his newspaper articles supporting Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen.

A spokesperson for the government told local media that it will not comment on individual cases.

The bans came after false reports that Taiwan’s New Power Party was coming to Hong Kong to rally for a group of Legislative Council candidates. In response to the reports, a government spokesperson said on August 19 that “the government does not welcome activists who pursue the notion of Taiwan independence to come to Hong Kong to campaign for Hong Kong political organisations.”

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.