Thu, Jul 14, 2016 - Page 8 News List

No freedom of travel for Chinese

By James Wang 王景弘

A self-appointed go-between has put the word out that Beijing plans to completely ban Chinese tourists from traveling to Taiwan. This has sparked concern among Taiwanese who make a living from Chinese tourists.

Seeing an opportunity, some opposition politicians immediately expressed their “concern” and begged China for mercy.

However, a more serious aspect of this affair is Chinese do not enjoy freedom of travel. The world’s democracies only issue travel bans when unrest, rebellions or epidemics break out in particular regions.

There are very few nations that arbitrarily decide which countries their citizens can visit, based on political considerations, like China does.

Of course, not all Chinese tourists who visit Taiwan are traveling under orders. Some of them come here to visit relatives, while others come out of curiosity or because Taiwan is close to China and the fares are cheap.

However, according to the Chinese mentality of worshiping all things foreign, those who have enough money would rather visit the US, Europe or Japan than Taiwan.

Whether the number of Chinese visitors rises or falls, it has both good and bad effects on Taiwan. However, the central point is Taiwan cannot allow China to manipulate the situation in such a way that the nation forfeits its independence and self-determination.

It was not so long ago that former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) accepted China’s invitation to join Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on Tiananmen Gate and review a military parade.

Now the same party is claiming to have expressed its concern to China over the tourism issue, with Lien volunteering to “help” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) communicate with China.

The volunteer lobbyist says China should understand that Taiwan needs peace and respect, and that the government should also understand what China needs, so the two sides can sit down and talk things over.

Lien’s pronouncement not only misses the point — it is a political ruse whose purpose is to mislead the public.

Of course, China knows that Taiwan needs peace, just as Taiwan knows what China wants.

China knows full well that Taiwanese want things to stay peaceful so that they can go on making money. That is precisely why Beijing uses both threats and enticements, with a carrot in one hand and missiles in the other, to try and make Taiwan surrender.

However, Taiwan is not the only one that needs peace — China needs it too.

If China wants peace, it should give its citizens freedom of choice, including the right to choose where they travel, instead of making everything political and using its citizens as pawns.

Rather than grasping this essential point, Lien said that if China would let 1 million people come over here straight away, Taiwan would be completely unprepared.

Whoever talks such nonsense will only end up sounding like a fool.

James Wang is a media commentator.

Translated by Julian Clegg

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