TAIPEI - Macau's government said on Wednesday it would suspend operations at its representative office in Taiwan, following in the footsteps of Hong Kong, which made a similar move last month in response to Taipei's support for pro-democracy activists there.
The gambling hub's government said that The Macao Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan would stop operating starting June 19 and that Macau residents there could seek assistance via a hotline.
Like the initial announcement by the Hong Kong office, it did not give a reason for the suspension.
The Hong Kong government gave its reasons days later, accusing Taipei of "gross interference in internal affairs, including with its offer to assist "violent" protesters, accusations democratically governed Taiwan rejected.
Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, which makes the island's China policy, expressed regret at Macau's decision, saying in a statement it was made "unilaterally."
"We have always upheld the attitude of goodwill and mutual benefit and tried our best to provide assistance," it said, adding that Taiwan's representative office in Macau would continue to operate.
The Hong Kong government last month singled out Taiwan's move last year to open an office in Taipei to help people who may want to leave Hong Kong after the imposition of a strict national security law there.
Taipei said it provides humanitarian care and necessary services to Hong Kong people who come to Taiwan legally and that like other democracies, it supports them in their "struggle for democracy and freedom."
Last year, Taiwan officials in Hong Kong were told their visas would not be renewed unless they signed a document supporting Beijing's claim to Taiwan under its "one China" policy.
China has proposed that Taiwan be brought under Beijing rule under a "one country two systems" arrangement similar to what it offered to Hong Kong when the special administrative region returned to China in 1997.
All of Taiwan's main political parties have rejected the idea.
(Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard in Taipei and Marius Zaharia in Hong Kong; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Gerry Doyles) ((email@example.com;))