The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday dismissed speculation that Beijing is planning to drastically cut the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan by 95 percent in the run-up to the January elections.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) asked MAC Deputy Minister Lin Chu-chia (林祖嘉) at a legislative meeting about reports that the Beijing government is to reduce the number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan by 95 percent for a month between the middle of December and Jan. 16, when Taiwan holds its presidential and legislative elections.
She asked whether the government had come up with countermeasures to protect local tourism, especially in eastern Taiwan.
Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times
“There is no such thing,” Lin said, referring to the rumored cut.
Asked why such a rumor has been circulating, Lin said that Taiwanese elections are a politically sensitive issue in China, and Beijing has therefore cautioned Chinese “visitors and travel agencies to be careful when visiting.”
“So it is true that a small portion of people might be affected,” Lin said.
“Do you not think that [Chinese people] would rather be curious, contrary to the Chinese government’s warning, about the election in a pluralistic democratic society? After all, they do not have elections there,” Hsiao said.
“That is true, so visitors in general might want to come, but tour groups of professionals or of official exchanges might be affected,” Lin said, adding that he could not specify a number, but expects the figure to be small.
“Certainly not 95 percent,” he said.
Hsiao said the concern expressed by travel agencies is an indication of how tourism has become overly dependent on China.
Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said the government has always been circumspect and kept the number of Chinese tourists at a certain level.
“The proportion [of Chinese visitors] is less than 40 percent right now,” he said.
MAC Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言) said on Monday at a legislative committee meeting that he would inform his Chinese counterpart during a cross-strait meeting starting today that Taiwan’s elections are “normal and regular” events that should not be an excuse to bar Chinese tourists from visiting Taiwan.
Hsia added that he would ask Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) to clearly repudiate the rumor about the 95 percent reduction.
Hsia said the two sides would also exchange views on the overall development of cross-strait relations, and that the council hopes to maintain cross-strait peace and stability based on the so-called “1992 consensus.”
The “1992 consensus” refers to a tacit understanding reached during the cross-strait talks in 1992 that both Taiwan and China acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what that means.
Hsia and Zhang will also exchange views on the cross-strait trade in goods agreement, setting up respective representative offices in each other’s territories, signing an environmental protection agreement, the implementation of major agreements, and both sides taking part in regional economic integration.
Additional reporting by CNA
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