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Han's visits to Beijing offices 'politically sensitive': MAC

2019/03/27 19:00:41

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通)

Taipei, March 27 (CNA) Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said Wednesday that Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu's (韓國瑜) recent visits to Beijing's liaison offices in Hong Kong and Macau were "politically sensitive" and a first for a Taiwan politician.

"It was an extremely politically sensitive act," Chen said prior to a legislative hearing.

"Neither former Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), who is now secretary-general at the Presidential Office, nor former Taipei Mayor and former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took such a step when they visited Hong Kong or Macau in their capacity as local government heads," he said.

Chen said Taiwan has been facing a very difficult situation since Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in January unveiled a set of guidelines for Taiwan's unification with China based on a "one country, two systems" model.

Before Hong Kong's reversion to Chinese rule in 1997, Beijing promised to grant Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy under the "one country, two systems" model but that has not happened and China is now focused only on the "one country" part of the phrase, Chen said.

Several polls have shown that the Hong Kong people are disgruntled with the current situation there, he added.

Against that backdrop, Chen said, Taiwan is considering amending the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau to require the MAC's approval for visits to Hong Kong and Macau by local government heads, political appointees or government officials on secret missions.

On the question of whether Han may be fined up to NT$500,000 (US$16,230) under the law for meeting with Chinese officials in Hong Kong and Macau, Chen said the MAC's first step would be to confirm the facts with Han when he returns to Taiwan.

Han's meetings with top officials at the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong and Macau on Friday and Saturday, respectively, have given rise to concern among government officials and political commentators in Taiwan.

The meetings with China's highest authorities in charge of managing the "one country, two systems" model in Hong Kong and Macau sent the message that Han recognizes that model, which was imposed by China on those two territories, some commentators have said.

At Wednesday's legislative hearing, National Security Bureau (NSC) Director-General Peng Sheng-chu (彭勝竹) said the two Chinese offices were trying to gain the attention of the Taiwan people through Han, who might have been tricked into a unification trap set by China.

To close the legal loopholes that could jeopardize Taiwan's national dignity, Peng said, the NSC and MAC will discuss amendments to the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau to better regulate visits by Taiwanese officials and local government chiefs to the two territories.

Han departed Taiwan last Friday on an eight-day trip to four cities in southern China and is currently visiting Xiamen following visits to Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen, where he secured orders worth billions of renminbi for Kaohsiung agricultural products.

Before he left on the trip, Han had said he would not talk about politics during the visit, which he described as an effort to obtain orders for his city's agricultural products.

Han, however, met with China's Taiwan Affairs Office Director Liu Jieyi (劉結一) in Xiamen Tuesday, with the two voicing strong support for the "1992 consensus," a tactic agreement that "there is only one China in the world, but each side is free to interpret what "one China" means.

The meeting prompted a response later Tuesday from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who said that "Taiwan's political figures have the responsibility of safeguarding the country's sovereignty and dignity."

On Wednesday, Kaohsiung City Councilor Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), son of former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), and other city councilors, lodged a suit against Han with the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office, accusing him of treason.

They said Han gave tacit consent to China's "one country, two systems" unification formula and thus had undermined the national dignity and wellbeing of the Taiwan people.

In response, Anne Wang (王淺秋), director-general the Kaohsiung Information Bureau, said it was a "far-fetched" accusation driven by political ideology.

(By Chen Chun-chung, Yu Kai-hsiang and Flor Wang)
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