Mon, Oct 03, 2016 - Page 16 News List

Chinese ‘blue’ tour draws mixed response

Staff writer, with CNA

A tour package proposed by a state-run travel agency in China to parts of Taiwan governed by the “pan-blue” alliance, headed by the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), has drawn mixed responses.

Beijing-based China International Services this month launched the Taiwan Affairs Office-endorsed “Tour to ‘blue’ counties and cities” in Taiwan, the Chinese-language Apple Daily newspaper reported yesterday.

The six-day tour, priced at less than NT$20,000 (US$638), was proposed in line with Beijing’s call to visit pan-blue-governed counties and cities, the report said.

The heads of the cities and counties welcomed the idea, but Ting Yun-kung (丁允恭), spokesman of the “pan-green” Kaohsiung City Government, said Taiwan is a colorful place and that “it is a pity for people to discover only one color,” the Apple Daily said.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) is considered a heavyweight in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which leads the pro-Taiwan independence “pan-green” camp.

Exchanges between Taiwan and China have cooled in many sectors, including tourism, since President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration on May 20.

The number of Chinese visiting Taiwan fell 32 percent in August from a year earlier, Tourism Bureau data showed, a decline some say has been engineered by the Chinese government.

Last month, a delegation of six KMT and two independent officials visited China to promote Taiwan’s agricultural produce and tourism. They were reportedly warmly received by Chinese authorities.

Asked about the controversial tour package, New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), a KMT member, said he hoped Chinese tourists would continue to visit Taiwan and that Taiwan would maintain cooperative relations with China in agricultural and industrial sectors.

“It is just that we are a window and [we] hope more tourists will come to Taiwan,” Chu said.

Some criticized the tour package as China’s attempt to divide Taiwan, but Chu shrugged off the idea, saying that people open their arms to tourists in the same way as they welcome cross-strait industrial and agricultural cooperation.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said he doubted Beijing’s strategy is practical and feasible since the nation’s international airports in Taoyuan, Taichung and Kaohsiung are under pan-green administration.

“I do not believe Chinese tourists can just parachute into Taiwan,” Ko said, adding that the strategy would prove to be of no avail.

Ko said that Taipei would still try to attract Chinese visitors and it has plans to woo visitors from the ASEAN and Muslim countries.

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