The recent tragedy on the Suhua Highway involving Chinese tourists will not affect a plan to admit Chinese tourists traveling independently rather than with tour groups, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) said.
“The tragedy was an isolated incident that will not affect the plan to open our doors to independent Chinese tourists,” Kao said. “The two sides will continue negotiating technical details and the program will be put into practice when the time is ripe.”
At present, Chinese nationals can only visit Taiwan for -pleasure as part of an organized tour, but the government hopes that relaxing the restriction would further boost the country’s tourism industry.
Meanwhile, rescue workers continued searching the mountains and sea near where a bus carrying the Chinese tourists disappeared, but failed to locate any of those who went missing on Oct. 21 when deadly landslides hit the Suhua Highway amid torrential rains brought by Typhoon Megi. Body parts of three people — one Chinese and two Taiwanese — have been recovered, but 23 other people remain unaccounted for.
Responding to complaints by some relatives of missing Chinese that Taiwan did not mobilize sufficient manpower and equipment for the search, Kao said rugged terrain and inclement weather hobbled the operation.
“As a matter of fact, a large number of search and rescue professionals, military SWAT team members, warships and Coast Guard vessels have taken part in the operation,” Kao said.
Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Chairman Kao Charng (高長) said the Ministry of Justice was studying whether Taiwan’s State Compensation Act (國家賠償法) is applicable to Chinese victims.