Taiwan’s top acting representative in Hong Kong Kao Ming-tsun reportedly left the city on Thursday after he refused to sign a statement supporting the “One China” policy in exchange for a work visa extension.

According to an exclusive report by Taiwan-based online news outlet Up Media, local authorities asked Kao, who is the acting head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hong Kong, to sign an affidavit expressing support for the “One China” policy for his recent visa extension application.

Kao Ming-tsun
Kao Ming-tsun (left) and lawmaker Yiu Si-wing (right). Photo: Yiu Si-wing, via Facebook.

“One China” is a diplomatic principle acknowledging only one Chinese government and Taiwan as part of China. Taiwan has been ruled by the Republic of China government since 1945 and considers itself to be an independent country.

Countries that wish to establish formal relations with Beijing are forced to cut ties with Taiwan, isolating the island-nation diplomatically. Currently, Taiwan only has 15 diplomatic allies and is excluded from international agencies such as the World Health Organization.

The Mainland Affairs Council’s office in Hong Kong told Up Media that Kao refused to comply with the request and returned to Taiwan on Thursday. The council’s Minister Chen Ming-tong said at a regular press conference on the same day that other Taiwanese representatives in the city had experienced major visa extension application delays.

Photo: Office of the President of Taiwan, via Flickr.

Kao has been the acting top representative after the designated official Lu Chang-shui’s visa application was left pending since 2018.

Chen said the Hong Kong government had imposed “additional political conditions” when processing visa renewals and applications since the newly-enacted security law.

“This is unacceptable,” he said, adding that local authorities had overlooked the importance of Taiwan’s office in Hong Kong in facilitating exchanges between the two authorities.

national security carrie lam john lee teresa cheng
Chief Executive Carrie Lam (centre) with Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng (left) and Secretary for Security John Lee (right). Photo: GovHK.

The Hong Kong government has yet to respond publicly.

The Beijing-imposed national security legislation criminalises secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference. Under Article 43 of the law, if the local police chief “reasonably believes” it is necessary for preventing and investigating relevant offences, the force may require Taiwanese political groups to hand over information such as personal particulars, assets, sources of income and expenses of their Hong Kong branches.

Ho Long Sze Kelly is a Hong Kong-based journalist covering politics, criminal justice, human rights, social welfare and education. As a Senior Reporter at Hong Kong Free Press, she has covered the aftermath of the 2019 extradition bill protests and the Covid-19 pandemic extensively, as well as documented the transformation of her home city under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Kelly has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration. Prior to joining HKFP in 2020, she was on the frontlines covering the 2019 citywide unrest for South China Morning Post’s Young Post. She also covered sports and youth-related issues.