Sun, Aug 19, 2007 - Page 2 News List

HK returns Taipei's letter of protest in immigration dispute

AP , HONG KONG

Hong Kong has returned a letter from the Taipei government protesting an immigration dispute over Falun Gong members and accused it of stirring up controversy, a government spokeswoman said on Friday.

"We returned the letter on Aug. 8," said Seiko Ho of Hong Kong's Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau.

She declined to say why the Hong Kong government returned the letter.

The letter was from Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the government agency in charge of handling China affairs.

The letter protested Hong Kong's decision in June to refuse entry to more than a dozen Taiwanese members of the Falun Gong, which is banned in China.

The Hong Kong government maintains it did nothing wrong.

"The allegation made by those in Taiwan has no legal basis and is unacceptable. We express deep regret that the Taiwanese side has sought to stir up controversy unnecessarily," the Hong Kong authority said in a statement.

MAC criticized the letter's return, saying it "finds such rude behavior unacceptable and regrettable."

Taiwanese closely monitor developments in Hong Kong, which was promised a wide degree of autonomy by China under a "one country, two systems'' formula when the former colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.

Although ruled by China, Hong Kong maintains separate political and economic systems from China. China has offered a similar formula to Taiwan, which has rejected it for fear its freedoms and democracy would be compromised.

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