Thu, Jan 06, 2005 - Page 3 News List

MAC says Ma visa refusal indicates worsening ties

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Hong Kong's refusal of Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) visa application indicates a decline in the nation's ties with the Chinese Special Administrative Region, according to the nation's top cross-strait policymaking body.

"If it is indeed because Ma spoke negatively about the anti-secession legislation that he is unable to go to Hong Kong, then this would prove to be a complete obliteration of the `one country, two systems' model," Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said yesterday, indicating that no explanation had been formally provided for the failure to issue a visa.

Media reports from Hong Kong have pointed to Ma's recent criticism of China's anti-secession bill as the reason behind the visa complications, but Chiu said the council was working to get an official explanation.

Chiu also responded to inquiries as to whether Ma's announcement that he'd failed to secure a visa was politically motivated, aimed at demonstrating to Taiwanese constituents that his relationship with Chinese authorities is not as cozy as some believe.

While Chiu responded in the negative, saying that the presidential elections were a long way off, he said he felt that the Hong Kong government's rejection of Ma's visa application made evident the possible impact of the anti-secession law.

"If someone like Ma is unable to secure a visa because of his remarks regarding the anti-secession bill, then what will become of others in Taiwan who criticize the bill? Won't it be even worse? The withholding of a visa for Ma will only turn the Taiwanese people away from the bill," Chiu said.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's de facto representative to Hong Kong, Pao Cheng-kang (鮑正鋼), yesterday echoed the Executive Yuan, calling on the government of Hong Kong to provide an explanation for its refusal to issue Ma a visa, according to the Central News Agency.

"Ma was to visit Hong Kong at the invitation of Hong Kong University ... and the visit would have had nothing to do with politics. Many citizens of Hong Kong have already expressed regret regarding the government's temporary refusal to issue a visa," the news agency quoted Pao as saying.

Pao said he had already contacted Hong Kong officials for an explanation, but that no response had been given.

According to the report, Pao said that the government's suggestion that Hong Kong University invite Ma again in April indicated there was some flexibility in the matter.

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