Macao allows Taipei office to issue visas to Chinese

MODERN PROBLEMS: Macao residents, Chinese citizens and foreign travelers can be processed in the Chinese territory, helping to eliminate headaches for travelers

By Lin Miao-jung  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Mon, Jan 07, 2002 - Page 3

Macao said on Saturday that Taiwan's representative office there will be allowed to issue visas for Taiwan-bound visitors, including Macao residents, Chinese citizens and foreign travelers.

Before the Taipei Trade and Cultural Office (TTCO), the semi-official Taiwanese representative office in Macao, was allowed to issue visas, the most convenient way for those wanting to visit Taiwan was to apply for a visa through Taipei's office in Hong Kong, the Chung Hwa Travel Service (中華旅行社).

In a press release, the government of the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) said the new measure was in line with Beijing's Macao policy toward Taiwan, and will mean less hassles for people who wish to travel to Taiwan.

The government of the former Portuguese colony did not allow the Taipei Trade and Tourism office in Macao, the TTCO's predecessor, to issue visas.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) welcomed the Macao government's new measure in a statement, in which the MAC said it would discuss further details with the MSAR.

According to the Central News Agency, the president of the Macao Travel Service Association, Liu Ya-huang (劉雅煌), said the new measure will not benefit Macao tourism much because strict regulations on issuing visas by both Chinese and Taiwanese governments are still in place.

However, Liu said it would be helpful for economic and cultural exchanges between Macao and Taiwan.

The MSAR was established in 1999 after Portugal handed Macao back to China. Since then, the Taipei Trade and Tourism office has changed its name to the TTCO and lobbied for the right to issues visas.

Macau and Taiwan maintain close commercial and cultural ties. About 15,000 Macau citizens work or study in Taiwan.

Macau, which has just 440,000 residents, recorded 1.3 million Taiwanese visitor arrivals last year, fewer only than arrivals from Hong Kong and China.

Unlike those from Hong Kong, visitors from China and Taiwan can enter Macau as tourists without a visa for an initial period of 20 days.