Foreign diplomats raised questions concerning recent cross-strait developments at a briefing set up by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday on the sixth round of cross-strait talks held earlier this month.
The Cross-Strait Agreement on Medical and Health Cooperation was signed during the just--concluded talks.
Hugues Mignot, director of the Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office in Taipei, asked whether Taiwanese living in China would be able to have their medical expenses in China reimbursed by Taiwan’s national health insurance (NHI) system and possible regulations for individual Chinese tourists.
Shih Chin-shui (施金水), deputy director of the Department of Health’s Bureau of International Cooperation, said that medical expenses incurred within China are not covered by the NHI system, with the exception of emergency cases, which will be reviewed in accordance with regulations.
Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman Chao Chien-min (趙建民) told Mignot that arrangements regulating individual Chinese tourists haven’t been finalized, although both sides of the Strait had agreed during the talks that Taiwan would allow visits by individual Chinese travelers at an appropriate date in the coming year.
The initial decisions were that the number of individual tourists from China will be limited to “maybe one-tenth of the 4,000 daily cap,” and Taiwan will try to make it easier for individual tourists to apply for visas, granting them at airports upon arrival, for example, Chao said.
Currently up to 3,000 Chinese tourists are allowed to visit Taiwan each day, while both sides agreed during the talks to increase the quota to 4,000 from next month.
The Republic of Nauru’s Ambassador Ludwig Keke, among the group of 41 representatives from 36 countries at the briefing, asked the officials if Taiwan would be able to accommodate all the Chinese people who want to come to Taiwan for medical tourism.
“There are already Chinese tourists coming for medical purposes, especially cosmetic purposes, but there is no way Chinese tourists will come in a huge number beyond the daily cap,” Chao said.
In addressing concerned raised by Ambassador Alhagie Ebrima Jarjou from Gambia concerning the effect of the Cross-Strait Agreement on Medical and Health Cooperation on Taiwan’s national security, Chao said: “I don’t think there is need for concern there.”
The agreement covers communicable disease control, cooperation in research and development in biotech industries, safe management of Chinese herbal medicines, and emergency treatments and “has nothing to do with national security,” Chao said.
Marek Wejtko, representative of the Warsaw Trade Office in Taipei, raised questions about the proposed investment protection agreement, which was not concluded during the talks because of divisions over whether disputes could be settled by international arbitration institutions.
“How much of the agreement would be based on the WTO?” asked Wejtko, who was also concerned about whether the government had consulted with Taiwanese investors in China on the contents of the agreement.
Chao said that the two sides were not obliged to follow WTO rules in the proposed investment protection agreement because it does not pertain to trade, but “important elements of the agreement will be in conformity with international practice.”