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Taiwan

Two months after Taiwan’s appointment, de facto envoy to Hong Kong still waiting for visa

Veteran political observer believes tense cross-straits relations are affecting the situation

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 September, 2018, 7:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 September, 2018, 11:01pm

Taiwan’s de facto envoy to Hong Kong has yet to be granted a visa more than two months after his appointment, while the post of the city’s representative to Taiwan has also been vacant for a month.

A political observer said he believed tense cross-straits relations were affecting the situation. Beijing claims self-ruling Taiwan is a wayward province.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council in mid-June appointed Lu Chang-shui as the new head of its Office of Hong Kong Affairs, and expected Lu to obtain his visa and take up the post in a month’s time.

Yet two months later, Lu, who earlier served in a similar position in Macau, still had not secured his visa.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government has not sent anyone to fill the role as director of the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taiwan, after it was vacated last month by Rex Chang.

Previous media reports noted Hong Kong officials’ delayed visa issuance for the de facto Taiwan envoy had coincided with the pro-independence Democratic Progress Party’s leadership on the island.

During the presidency of former Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian, who is a party colleague of current President Tsai Ing-wen, Chang Liang-jen waited 13 months for his Hong Kong visa. Chang took up the envoy post in 2001.

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Chang’s successor, Pao Cheng-kang, waited five months for his visa in 2004.

“Relations between Hong Kong and Taiwan are always affected by cross-straits relations,” veteran China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said.

He noted that Beijing had persuaded one African country after another to cut ties with Taiwan, adding that eSwatini was its last remaining ally on the continent.

As mainland Chinese officials are set to meet African leaders at a major summit in Beijing next week, he said now was not a good time for the new envoy to take office.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council told the Post that Hong Kong officials were handling Lu’s application. The council said it would continue to monitor the application’s progress.

The city’s Immigration Department said it would not comment on individual cases. A spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said relevant personnel appointment matters were under way after Rex Chang left his post on July 28.