Election forum to be held
Two public policy research institutions in the US are to hold a joint seminar this month to discuss the results of Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections, and the implications for relations between the US,Taiwan and China. The forum is scheduled to be held in Washington on Jan. 17, three days after the elections, by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Brookings Institution. The discussion panels will comprise analysts and academics from Taiwan, the US and the UK, among them former American Institute in Taiwan director Douglas Paal; Chu Yun-han (朱雲漢), research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Political Science; executive director of the 21st Century Foundation Kao Su-po (高思博); Lai I-chung (賴怡忠) of the Taiwan Thinktank; and Apple Daily columnist Antonio Chiang (江春男).
Chinese visitors top 3m
Since Taiwan opened its borders to Chinese tour groups in 2008, more than 3 million travelers from China have visited, according to statistics published by the National Immigration Agency yesterday. In the last two months of last year, Chinese tourist arrivals averaged 4,524 per day, agency officials said. As of the end of last month, 30,000 Chinese had applied to visit Taiwan under the Free Independent Traveler program, the officials said. Statistics show that more than 6.3 million Chinese visited between Nov. 9, 1988, and Nov. 30 last year, the officials said. The government would continue to simplify application procedures, relax regulations, and promote interaction with relevant tourism and immigration agencies in China in an effort to make it easier for Chinese tourists to visit, the officials said.
Visiting Finland made easier
Republic of China (ROC) passport holders can apply for biometric residence permit cards in Finland after they enter the Scandinavian country instead of having to apply prior to their arrival, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Finland announced on Dec. 19 last year that it would introduce biometric residence permits at the beginning of this year and that from Jan. 1, all foreigners entering Finland must have completed interviews and submitted personal biometic data as part of the immigration process before arrival. James Lee (李光章), director-general of the ministry’s Department of European Affairs, said the ministry had made efforts to simplify the complex immigration process facing Taiwanese, including filing for a residence visa and having an interview in a third nation because Taiwan and Finland do not maintain formal diplomatic relations. The Finnish authorities have agreed that ROC passport holders can apply for a biometric residence permit after they arrive in Finland. Lee said, this means that Taiwanese can visit Finland visa-free to work, study or live with a Finland-residing family and they can apply for a biometric residence permit with the Finnish police within 90 days of their arrival.
Visa-waiver deal agreed
The British Virgin Islands is set to be the 125th country or region to grant visa-free entry or landing visas to Republic of China passport holders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The details about when the privilege will take effect will be announced after negotiations with the British Virgin Islands government, the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. The statement said the program would follow the one adopted by the British government in March 2009.