Stop complaining about visas
Every time I read an article in the Taipei Times about Taiwan’s attempts to gain short-term visa-free access to the US, it makes me cringe with disgust. Charles Snyder’s article (“Bush excludes Taiwan from US visa-free list,” Oct. 19, page 1) was your most recent article on this topic.
Why am I disgusted? Because in the 20 years that I’ve lived in Taiwan, Taiwan has never made it easy for Americans to come here. The maximum visa-free stay is 30 days (up from 14 days). If you grovel enough, sign a stack of papers, get certified copies of your bank deposits, have a return ticket in hand and pay US$120, you may get a 60 day visa, but that depends on whether the visa case officer is having a good day or not.
Considering the long-term relationship Taiwan has with the US and the fact that very few Americans decide to come here while hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese go to the US, I always found it stupefying that Taiwan was so stingy on issuing visas to Americans.
Why is it that I can travel to most other places in Asia and easily get a no-questions-asked 90-day visa, but getting a similar visa for Taiwan is such a hassle? Even a visa to China is easier to get than a visa to Taiwan.
Taiwan has not only hurt business travelers with this stingy policy, it has also wasted a major opportunity to become the Mandarin-language training center of the world.
One wonders who is the real benefactor of this policy. If you consider that everyone on a 30-day visa who wishes to stay longer must spend at least NT$6,500 for a Hong Kong plane ticket — plus at least NT$3,000 on expenses in Hong Kong that could have been spent in Taiwan — the only ones who seem to benefit are the airlines.
It is no surprise that a major airline used to be wholly owned — and is now partly owned — by the government. It makes you question whether it was a scam on foreigners all these years designed to add to the government coffers and make tourist numbers look better than they are.
No way should Taiwanese be given 90 day visa-free admittance to the US unless they change their visa policies first. Sorry, but that is the way I feel on this important issue.
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