Taiwan pledges to retain HK office

TAIWAN'S information office will stay when Hong Kong returns to Chinese rule - but the name will be different.

As of yesterday, Free China Review (FCR) - the island's Government Information Office (GIO) here, will be known as the Kwang Hwa Information and Culture Centre (KHICC).

Whether Taiwan will retreat after 1997 has been a concern in recent years.

Although the ruling Kuomintang Government has repeated many times that it will stay, many believed some changes would have to take place to pacify the Chinese.

Political analysts have said Beijing would not tolerate the FCR, which contends the mainland is not free under communist rule.

But Susie Chiang, director of the FCR and also the KHICC, dismissed claims that giving the organisation a new name meant a lower profile in the runup to 1997. She said the centre had expanded its size and functions.

Originally housed in Central premises of only 300 square feet, the two-in-one FCR and KHICC has been relocated to expensive Pacific Place, Admiralty, with more than 1,000 sqare feet of accommodation.

In addition to providing information, the centre now has a gallery, a conference hall and a library.

Ms Chiang, also a member of Taiwan's National Assembly, said there was resistance to its expansion.

''Beijing wants us to keep a low profile,'' she said.

''Before we moved to the present venue, we had already been functioning as an information and cultural centre. The new name is just to cope with our job description,'' she said.

At the grand opening yesterday, Ms Chiang vowed to stay after 1997.

''We are committed to Hong Kong,'' she said.

''It is the meeting point between the two places across the Taiwan Strait, and its role will not change in the future.'' Taiwan's GIO Director-General, Jason C. Hu, and 16 Taiwan legislators, also attended the opening.