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Taiwan recalls seven officials from its office in Hong Kong

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Taiwan said it recalled seven representative officials from Hong Kong, citing “unreasonable political preconditions” for its personnel to operate in the city.

Hong Kong has been requesting since July 2018 that Taiwan’s representatives sign a “one China principle” commitment letter as part of visa requirements, Taipei’s Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement on Sunday. Taiwan will adjust the business operations at its representative office in Hong Kong from June 21, the agency said.

The personnel returned to Taiwan on Sunday, Mainland Affairs Council spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng said by phone.

The agency said Beijing and Hong Kong should take full responsibility for the recall, which will damage relations between Taiwan and Hong Kong, and the rights of people from both sides.

Taiwan should immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs or it will face “severe” punishment, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China’s office that handles matters related to Taiwan, said in a statement.

Last month, Hong Kong closed its trade office in Taiwan because of Taipei’s support for pro-democracy activists in the former British colony, confirming speculation that the move had been prompted by rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

Hong Kong’s government said Taiwan had “grossly interfered” in the city’s affairs on repeated occasions and “created irretrievable damage” to the relationship that its office in Taiwan was intended to support.

China has been ramping up diplomatic pressure on Taiwan since the democratically ruled island elected President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016, a vocal critic of the Communist Party in Beijing and a supporter of protesters in Hong Kong.

Beijing argues the island is part of its territory, although the party has never controlled it. Tsai argues Taiwan is already a sovereign nation and has urged Beijing to restore communications between the two sides.

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