A group of Chinese tourists has been missing since arriving in Taiwan last Tuesday, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) confirmed yesterday, on the eve of the annual Hankuang military exercises.
According to the council, all 17 members of the tour group failed to meet the Taiwanese travel agency that was to greet them at the airport last Tuesday. Two members of another tour group from China disappeared last Wednesday, and another the following day.
Council officials were quick to dismiss speculation about the tourists' disappearance, saying that the timing of the incident did not necessarily indicate any link to the Hankuang drills, or Beijing's military exercises on Dongshan island off Fujian Province and its test of ballistic missiles in Shanxi Province later this month.
MAC Vice Chairman Liu Te-shun (
Liu said the disappearance of individuals on the 14th and the 15th was a totally different matter to the disappearance of the group on the 13th.
"Since allowing Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan, we've seen a few cases in which tourists unexpectedly leave their group. Usually these people return to the group later," Liu said.
Liu said that the travel agency immediately reported the disappearance of the 17-person group to the authorities.
He said that government agencies have a good idea of where the missing people might be.
The group originally departed from Fujian Province and consisted of more men than women. All the members of the group are middle-aged.
"MAC records show that 2,151 Chinese tourists visited Taiwan in 2002, 12,775 in 2003 and 8,448 tourists up to July of this year," council spokesman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said.
The council has no record of any Chinese tourists disappearing in 2002, while three disappeared last year. Liu said that to date these three have not been located.
"Of the 12,775 Chinese tourists who visited Taiwan in 2002, only three disappeared -- that's roughly one out of every 4,000," Chiu said.
Despite suspicions that the missing tourists might be illegal immigrants, council officials said yesterday that the incident would not affect current tourism policies.
"If safety is a concern, then we will work on improving it, but the policy will not change," MAC Chairman Joseph Wu (
Taiwan first opened its doors to Chinese tourists in January 2002, but at the time permitted only people in the so-called "third category" -- those who were studying overseas or who have permanent residence in a foreign country -- to visit. The government later changed the definition of "third category" to include those who have lived and worked in Hong Kong or Macau for more than four years.
In May 2002, the government further relaxed the regulations, allowing tour groups of "second category" Chinese nationals to enter the country. The second category includes visitors who make stops in other countries, either for business or pleasure, before arriving in Taiwan.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.