Thu, Nov 25, 2004 - Page 10 News List

MAC mulls the selling of yuan on outlying islands

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

It might soon be possible to buy the Chinese yuan at designated banks on the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu, according to the nation's top cross-strait policymaking body.

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) explained yesterday that it was possible that Taiwan replicate the currency conversion mechanism adopted by Hong Kong since its return to Chinese sovereignty. According to Wu, an agreement had been signed between Chinese and Hong Kong banking representatives in both countries to allow for currency conversions at specific banks.

"One possibility is to have the People's Bank of China (中國人民銀行) [China's central bank] and Taiwan's Central Bank (央行) sign an agreement to allow for currency conversion at certain sites," Wu said.

According to the Act Governing Relations between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area [兩岸人民關係條例], Chinese currency exchanges cannot be offered in Taiwan unless a bilateral currency settlement agreement is signed. The act allows, however, for pilot programs offering Chinese currency conversions to be established on the outlying islands Kinmen and Matsu.

While the council stressed that there was no specific timetable for the implementation of these pilot programs, MAC Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said yesterday that it would be ideal if the launch of the pilot programs could coincide with the start of Chinese tourism in Kinmen and Matsu.

A recent lift on travel bans imposed by the Chinese government is slated to bring an increased number of tourists from Fujian to the two offshore islands for visits. While Chiu said yesterday that the government was unclear as to when China would begin to allow tourists on Kinmen and Matsu, Kinmen Legislator Wu Cheng-tien (吳成典) said he expects tourists to begin arriving before the legislative elections.

"In terms of policymaking, we are looking into the possible problems and situations that the new tourism policies could pose," Chiu said.

He explained that the Central Bank was studying the pilot program, assuming that around 700 Chinese yuan [NT$2,700], the amount tourists are estimated to need on Kinmen, will be bought.

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