Sun, Sep 02, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Beijing issues visa threat to Taiwanese

SUBVERSION ATTEMPTS:Beijing has been holding gatherings in North America and other regions, urging Taiwanese expats to shun independence and promote unification

By Peng Wan-hsin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

China has exposed its autocratic nature by threatening Taiwanese expats in an attempt to prevent them returning home to attend next month’s Double Ten National Day celebrations, the Overseas Community Affairs Council said yesterday.

The Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday published a report citing sources as saying that China has delivered threats to Taiwanese across Southeast Asia through its embassies, saying that those who return home for Double Ten National Day would face difficulties when applying for a Chinese visa.

Local travel agencies in Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia and other countries in the region were asked to meet with the Chinese ambassadors there, and were asked to inform Taiwanese about possible difficulties they might encounter in their Chinese visa applications, the report said.

When reached for comment, the council said that China’s oppression of Taiwanese expats is pervasive, such as pressuring overseas compatriot groups friendly toward Taiwan into flying the People’s Republic of China flag or issuing thinly veiled threats regarding Chinese visa applications.

Council Deputy Minister Kao Chien-chih (高建智) cited as an example a meeting of Malaysian alumni from Taiwan that he attended early last month, saying that there were rumors that Chinese embassies had asked Malaysian city councilors not to attend the event.

China seeks to win people over with money, such as by funding schools or offering benefits to Taiwanese businesspeople working in projects related to its Belt and Road Initiative, Kao said.

Beijing has stepped up its efforts to subvert Taiwanese expat groups, the commission said in a report to the Legislative Yuan in October last year.

Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was inaugurated on May 20, 2016, the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification has been holding events and talks across North America and other regions, urging Taiwanese expatriates to set aside their pro-independence sentiments and promote unification with China, the overseas affairs council said.

China’s actions have shown the world its true nature — an authoritarian regime — the council said, adding that all Taiwanese are welcome to return home for Double Ten National Day.

It is customary to invite overseas compatriots to return home to attend the celebrations, the council said, adding that about 5,000 people on average answer the call each year.

Last year’s celebrations saw the highest number of Taiwanese expats attendees in six years, at 6,300 people, the council added.

China has used its political and economical leverage to force Southeast Asian nations to “speak with China first” before reaching any kind of deal — even a discount — with Taiwanese businesspeople, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) said.

These actions aim to counter the Tsai administration’s New Southbound Policy and the government should offer more assistance to Taiwanese businesspeople overseas, Chiu said.

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