Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳) yesterday denied allegations by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers that the ministry had negotiated visa-waiver exemptions at the cost of the country’s sovereignty.
“We absolutely did not sell out our sovereignty in exchange for visa exemptions from Croatia and Slovenia,” Shen told DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) at the legislature’s Foreign and Defense Committee.
Republic of China (ROC) passport holders can now enter 113 countries and territories without a visa, with Israel expected to become the 114th.
However, it was recently discovered that Taiwan is considered part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by some of the countries.
Examples cited were Croatia, which refers to the country as “Taiwan, People’s Republic of China” in its regulations on the visa regime, while Slovenia places Taiwan under the category “China” along with Hong Kong and Macau.
Tsai asked Shen to pledge that Taiwan had not secured visa exemptions by agreeing to be listed under “China.”
“The losses will outweigh the gains” if the ministry compromises the sovereignty of the country to obtain visa-waiver status, Tsai said.
Shen said the ministry did not surrender to the “one China” principle and that it was actively negotiating with Croatia and Slovenia on the matter.
Slovenia is a member of the Schengen Area in which ROC citizens can enter without a visa after Taiwan was included in the EU’s visa-waiver program late last year, while Croatia took its own initiative, Shen said.
“Croatia addressed us as Taiwan in a letter” regarding the offer, Shen said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) said the ministry should be praised for securing visa-free privileges from countries that do not have official diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
“It’s written in the communiques [signed between those countries and China upon establishing diplomatic ties] that Taiwan is a part of China. We are unable to change that reality,” Ting said. “The ministry overcame various obstacles in leading those countries to consider Taiwan as a political entity, which is something worthy of our encouragement.”