Fri, Dec 26, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Restrictions on officials’ cross-strait visits eased

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government moved one step closer to expanding cross-strait exchanges yesterday by relaxing regulations on visits to China by senior officials and visits to Taiwan by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) or government officials.

“[The relaxations] are proof we will continue with our opening-up policies in developing cross-strait relations and are symbolic of our confidence,” a Cabinet press release quoted Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) as saying during yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.

The rules governing visits to China classify civil servants into 14 grades. Senior officials at grade 11 or above and senior police officers would be allowed to go to China for any purpose after obtaining permission from their superiors and an inter-agency review, which would be convened by the Ministry of the Interior.

Such senior officials are now allowed to go to China on official business, to visit sick relatives or to attend the funerals of close relatives, although they must get the government’s permission first.

The Regulations for Visits to the Mainland Area by Government Employees and Persons with Special Status in the Taiwan Area (台灣地區公務員及特定身分人員進入大陸地區?鴘k) state that political appointees can only go to China to attend international activities or on official trips, while local government chiefs’ trips must be work-related.

Such officials would be allowed to go to China for business or for non-business reasons such as visiting sick relatives or to attend the funeral of close relatives if they receive permission first, but would still be banned from taking vacations in China.

Vice Minister of the Interior Lin Chung-sheng (林中森) said the changes would also apply to the heads of the five branches of government.

The restrictions on visits to China by security officials, military personnel, investigative agents, officials posted overseas and personnel involved in research and development of secret technologies remain for “national security” reasons, Lin said.

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