A maximum of 500 individual Chinese tourists a day could be allowed to visit Taiwan beginning next month, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said yesterday as he unveiled the government’s goals for future negotiations with Beijing.
“There is a great opportunity [for the authorities on both sides] to conclude the deal this month in negotiations. Only minor issues remain … some people wish that residents of Chengdu, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Hangzhou and Xiamen would also be allowed to visit,” Wu said.
Taiwan and China have tentatively agreed to an initial stage that would open Taiwan to individual Chinese tourists from major cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai.
The number of Chinese visitors has increased to an average of 3,600 a day since the daily quota was raised from 3,000 to 4,000 early this year, but they have been required to travel as part of an organized group.
Wu said the economy had benefited since 2008 when Chinese tourists were first allowed, with 1,500 tourist buses put into operation and an estimated NT$160 billion (US$5.54 billion) invested in hotel construction.
Wu made the remarks in response to a question about the government’s priorities in its negotiations with China in the coming year during a press conference to mark the third anniversary of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) inauguration.
Wu said the government would maintain the course set during the past three years and continue to seek stable and peaceful developments in cross-strait relations.
Among the issues to be included in future talks are an investment protection protocol, which has been put on hold because of a disagreement on clauses regarding double taxation and an arbitration mechanism, a plan to build up a cross-strait clearance mechanism and a nuclear safety agreement, Wu said.
The planned seventh round of cross-strait talks will not be affected by the presidential election and legislative elections scheduled for Jan. 14, Wu said.
Wu said the government had negotiated with China to increase the number of night flights between Taiwan and certain Chinese cities, with the aim of increasing the number from 370 a week to 500
The government will continue to negotiate with the airline to lower ticket prices to a more reasonable level, he said.
Regarding rumors that he would run as Ma’s vice presidential candidate on the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) ticket next year, Wu said the president had yet to discuss the matter with him.