Mon, Nov 07, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Chinese could arrive in March

CROSS-STRAIT TRIPS A TSU legislator said he had heard that the two sides have a tacit agreement and that Chinese holidaymakers will begin arriving after the Lunar New Year

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A pan-green legislator said yesterday that Taiwan could be opened up to Chinese tourists as early as next spring, with that period being selected to take advantage of the atmosphere of cooperation created by next year's Lunar New Year charter flights.

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator David Huang (黃適卓) said,"As far as I know, Taiwan and China have a tacit understanding to officially lift the ban and allow Chinese tourists to begin visiting Taiwan starting next March or April."

Huang said that he had obtained the information from high-level government officials during top China tourism official, Shao Qiwei's (邵琪偉), recent 10-day tour of Taiwan.

Huang questioned whether the government had already reached some kind of agreement on the tourism policy with China without the supervision of the legislature.

"We [the TSU] will ask government officials to brief our legislative caucus on the issue this week as we don't think that the government is ready to open up to Chinese tourists due to national security concerns," the legislator said.

Huang said that the TSU is strongly opposed to the policy as the government is unable to establish adequate precautionary measures to counter problems such as the overstaying of visas, the potential entry of secret agents and other issues that might be caused by an influx of illegal Chinese tourists.

The government initially began letting Chinese tourists visit Taiwan in Jan. 2001, but only those who were studying overseas or who have permanent residence in foreign countries were allowed to visit.

The scheme was expanded in May 2002 to admit Chinese people who take overseas holidays or foreign business trips. They were permitted to come to Taiwan from the countries where they were holidaying or doing business.

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said this June that the government is poised to fully open up Taiwan to tourists from China, allowing as many as 1,000 Chinese visitors per day to come to Taiwan for sightseeing on ten-day trips.

The recent visit to Taiwan by Shao was interpreted by the government as a positive step for both sides and an opportunity to discuss the details of the travel policy.

While declining to comment on whether Taiwan will fully open the door to Chinese tourists next spring, a Mainland Council Affairs official said that the suggestions made by Shao were constructive and would result in further communication.

Shao told the press after concluding his trip to Taiwan that he would like private tourism groups from Taiwan to come to China to discuss the matter and that the negotiations can be conducted by the association that doesn't contain the name "China."

"Because both sides are willing, the Cross-Strait Tourism Exchange Association can be in charge of the talks with Taiwan," Shao said.

Shao is the head of China's National Tourism Administration and is also the chairman of the China Tourism Association.

Using the Cross-Strait Tourism Exchange Association instead of the other two associations was also considered a good sign by the MAC.

Speaking of the intention to open the door for Chinese tourists, MAC Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said that the revenues created by the policy are not a big deal for Taiwan's economy, but improving cross-strait relations is.

"When Chinese people have a chance to visit Taiwan, they will understand Taiwan better, which will create a chance to improve cross-strait relations," he said.

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