Tue, Aug 26, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Landing visas pose no risk: MAC

ECONOMIC DRIVE Deputy MAC Chairman Liu Teh-hsun said that as 11 Chinese cities allow Taiwanese tourists entry on landing visas, it made sense to reciprocate

By Ko Shu-Ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

National security will not be compromised if Chinese are granted landing visas when visiting Kinmen and Matsu, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday.

Deputy Chairman Liu Teh-hsun (劉德勳) said that a preliminary review of the proposed measure was “OK” and that related government agencies would map out details regarding how to implement the measure.

Liu made the remarks in response to inquiries from the Taipei Times about President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) announcement that Chinese tourists visiting Kinmen or Matsu could be given landing visas or multiple entry visas.

Ma, who made the announcement in Kinmen on Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of the 823 Artillery Bombardment, said that the proposal was aimed at boosting the economic development of the military outpost and making travel to Kinmen and Matsu more convenient for Chinese tourists.

Liu said that as 11 Chinese cities allow Taiwanese tourists entry on landing visas, it would make sense to allow Chinese visitors to enjoy the same privilege.

MINI LINKS

Chinese visitors from Fujian Province can visit Penghu, Kinmen or Matsu via the “three mini links.” They cannot, however, visit Taiwan proper via the same route.

As the application for regular visas takes about three days, Liu said landing visas would cut down the time significantly.

However, he emphasized the importance of the screening system, saying that the administration would do its best to shorten the processing time for visas to Taiwan proper if applicants were not Chinese Communist Party or government officials. They would also make sure national security would be safeguarded.

While some blame the long visa processing period for low numbers of Chinese tourists coming to Taiwan, Liu said many factors were involved and that the issue would be on the agenda of the next round of cross-strait negotiations.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators on Sunday lambasted Ma’s plan, saying it was a threat to national security.

But Chinese Nationalist Party Legislator (KMT) Tsao Erh-chang (曹爾忠), from Matsu, lauded the president’s proposal, downplaying DPP concerns that the measure might lead to more Chinese working illegally in Kinmen and Matsu.

“It is unlikely that [Chinese tourists to Kinmen and Matsu] could escape because Kinmen and Matsu ... are small islands,” he said. “Besides, I believe the government would be able to effectively control [the visitors] on the islands.”

THREAT

Tsao also shrugged off media speculation that the president’s proposal might pose a threat to national security, adding that everyone, even Taiwanese, are barred from entering important military facilities on the islands.

Meanwhile, the council announced yesterday that there would be more relaxations on financial regulations for immigrant spouses seeking residency or naturalization.

If approved by the Executive Yuan, immigrant spouses no longer need to provide proof that they possess NT$420,000. The main reason was to prevent marriage brokers from profiting by lending high interest loans to their clients, Liu said.

The administration would also lower the minimum monthly income requirement for Chinese spouses seeking long-term stay or permanent residence status from NT$34,560 to NT$19,008, Liu said.

The estimated value of liquid assets would also be lowered from NT$420,000 to NT$120,000, but spouses must demonstrate an estimated value of unmovable assets worth NT$800,000, he said.

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