Thu, Aug 30, 2001 - Page 17 News List

Taiwan may open up to tourists from China by October

DPA , TAIPEI

Taiwan may soon allow tourists from China to visit Taiwan, following a consensus reached by an economic advisory council over the weekend to ease current restrictions on a trial basis, local Chinese-language media reported yesterday.

The first batch of tourists from China may arrive in Taiwan as soon as October, a local Chinese-language newspaper said, quoting DPP lawmaker Chang Ching-fang (張清芳).

Chang said the government may soon unveil a new policy on the opening-up of Taiwan to Chinese tourists and that, if certain visa and other formalities were resolved smoothly, the first batch of Chinese tourists could arrive as early as October.

He also said in the trial phase the opening-up would focus on Chinese tourists visiting the island as part of a tour group. In addition, the number of tourists allowed into the country would initially be limited to 1,000 per day.

The recommendation was one of several reached by politicians, academics and business leaders at a landmark economic conference over the weekend aimed at stimulating Taiwan's flagging economy. The gathering also proposed an easing of current limits on investments in China.

While Taiwan has allowed its citizens to freely travel to China since 1987, only a small number of Chinese have been able to visit Taiwan due to restrictions imposed by both sides of the Taiwan Strait after the end of a civil war in 1949.

Despite being separated for more than half a century, Beijing still regards the Taiwan as a renegade province and has pledged to bring it back into the fold, by force if necessary.

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