Tue, May 29, 2018 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Why is visa renewal so hard?

Taiwan deserves the maximum respect on the issue of independence from China. After 66 years of autonomous administration, Taiwanese have the undisputed right to rule themselves, as would be recognized by most of the world’s legal systems.

For sure, Taiwan is part of Greater China, and all the Taiwanese I know personally consider themselves to be Chinese, but this does not mean that they are subject to the sovereignty of China or a province thereof, unless Taiwanese one day democratically decide to merge with China.

Therefore, the dripping of small erosion of the international recognition of Taiwan made by China is despicable and it is the kind of unfair play that a great country like China should have better avoided.

However, there is something to improve in the strategy of consensus of Taiwanese: Sure, small African or island states have their importance in supporting Taiwan, also at UN level, but I think equally or even more important is the support of influential academics and famous people that visit or live in Taiwan.

Academics can spread internationally the consensus on Taiwanese independence much better than small states and can create a base for reaffirming the right of Taiwan as an autonomous province of China.

However, one negative point should be corrected: Taiwanese offices handling academics, such as the National Immigration Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Bureau of Consular Affairs, should be instructed to have a more friendly attitude toward solving visitors’ problems with as little bureaucracy as possible.

As a visiting professor at Taiwanese universities for 10 years, with about 34 Taiwan entrance visa stamps in my passport, I was this time told to go back to my country to have my entrance visa changed to one allowing me to work so that I can apply for an Alien Resident Certificate.

This was despite me having presented to the clerk at the agency all the necessary documents, such as my work contract, approval from the ministry and house rental papers.

I think nobody coming to Taiwan should be asked to go back home to restart their visa application. It looks to me a short-sighted and vexatious attitude toward people, such as myself, who love Taiwan and would just be recognized as a friend.

With all the correct documents presented at the agency or the bureau in Taipei, a visa should never be refused with the excuse that the process should have been started abroad.

I think removing this pitfall will improve the image of Taiwan among influential foreigners.

Silvano Donati

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