Taiwan Hails “Historic” Upgrade of Hong Kong Diplomatic Status

Posted July 20th, 2011 at 3:50 am (UTC-5)
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Taiwan has upgraded the status of its diplomatic representation in Hong Kong and Macau, marking a major easing of tensions with China.

The chairwoman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council was in Hong Kong Wednesday for a ceremony renaming the island's diplomatic office in the Chinese territory. Formerly known as the Chung Hwa Travel Service, it will now be known as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.

The chairwoman, Lai Shin-yuan, attended a similar ceremony in Macau on Tuesday. The offices, which issue visas for travel to Taiwan, will now enjoy a status similar to the diplomatic missions of other countries in the two autonomous territories.

China has long resisted any diplomatic move that would imply status as an independent country for Taiwan, which it considers a breakaway province. However a series of economic agreements have helped ease cross-Strait tensions in recent years.

Ms. Lai, whose office oversees Taiwan policy toward the mainland, described the change at Wednesday's ceremony as a “milestone” in Hong Kong-Taiwan relations. She said she was “thrilled” to be part of “this historic moment.”

Hong Kong and Macau are expected to open their own economic, trade and cultural offices in Taiwan.