A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator lambasted the National Immigration Agency (NIA) yesterday after discovering the agency has been allowing Chinese tourists to enter the country without filling out the entry and departure cards required of all other foreign nationals.
DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) questioned why the government was loosening regulations on Chinese tourists despite numerous cases of Chinese tourists either going missing or committing crimes.
Tsai said that when foreign nationals enter or leave Taiwan, or when Taiwanese tourists enter or leave other countries, they are required to fill out entry and departure cards listing their flight number and intended place of stay during their visit.
However, the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) quietly amended the Regulations Governing Entry and Exit Inspection and Information Collection (入出國查驗及資料蒐集利用辦法) last year, Tsai said.
Citing this amendment, the NIA on June 1 started allowing Chinese tourists to enter the country like Taiwanese citizens, who are not required to fill out the cards, he said.
Tsai said that many Chinese had gone missing from their tour groups.
He added that a woman who entered as a Chinese tourist was recently found working as a prostitute.
Despite these cases, the Cabinet is considering allowing Chinese to visit without having to join tour groups, Tsai said.
The government’s continued loosening of regulations is “placing politics above a safe society,” he said.
Many countries are tightening their regulations on Chinese visitors, Tsai said, urging the government to do the same.
NIA Deputy Director-General Ho Jung-chun (何榮村) said: “There is a misunderstanding.”
Ho said that Chinese tourists enter the country as part of tour groups and that the cards contain information the groups have already reported to the NIA before arriving. The new policy was only meant to simplify the entry process, he said.
He added that the government stringently monitors the itinerary of Chinese tourists.
If in the future the government allowed Chinese tourists to visit without joining tour groups, they would be required to fill out entry and departure cards, Ho said.