Lawmakers yesterday accused the Veterans Affairs Commission (VAC) of belittling itself with its recommendation that recreational farms remove the names of government agencies from their titles and in their promotional material to avoid “offending” Chinese tourists and the government in Beijing.
The commission said in its January report on the nation’s participation at the Chinese International Travel Mart in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China, in October last year that the wording on promotional material should not violate “local taboos,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers Tsai Chih-chang (蔡其昌) and Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) told a press conference yesterday.
The lawmakers said commission officials asked representatives of Wuling Farm and Cingjing Farm to remove the wording “Executive Yuan” from their promotional material, citing political concerns and Beijing’s displeasure.
The two recreational farms in central Taiwan are affiliated to the commisssion, which is under the Executive Yuan, and are among the most popular destinations for domestic and overseas tourists.
“The commission has always prided itself in its loyalty to the country, but now we’re seeing this self-belittling practice to cater to Beijing. It is ridiculous,” Tsai said.
The 100-member Taiwanese delegation was led by officials from the commission and the Tourism Bureau, Chiu said.
Chiu demanded that the government hold officials in the bureau and the commission accountable.
The commission’s demand was first disclosed by an unidentified Internet user on his or her Facebook page, which led the lawmakers to track down the report that had previously gone unnoticed.
Commenting on the matter, the commission said that according to Taiwan Visitors Association regulations stipulated in its exhibitors’ invitation program, the content of any publication, brochure and souvenir prepared by participant organizations must conform with “cross-strait conventions” and should undergo prior examinations by the association.
Such regulations exist to prevent unqualified material from impeding the customs clearance processes of the rest of the promotional items, the commission said, adding that staff at Cingjing Farm had removed references to the Executive Yuan on their own initiative after becoming aware of the rules.
However, an official at the commission said that removing words referring to official Taiwanese agencies from promotional material “lacked political sensitivity.”
“However, since the farm only took part in the exhibition to draw Chinese tourists to Taiwan, rather than engaging in any cross-strait dialogue with China or participating in any sort of political event, its conduct should not be defined as ‘belittling,’” a commission official said.
Taiwan Visitors Association Secretary-General Yeh Pi-hua (葉碧華) said that as the association had not received any funding from the government and that the removal of references to the Executive Yuan was not belittling.
With translation by Stacy Hsu, staff writer