A move by Chinese tour operators to promote travel to eight cities and counties governed by pan-blue camp officials or independents could hurt Beijing’s efforts to win the hearts and minds of Taiwanese, academics said.
Some Chinese travel agencies have organized tours to the eight cities and counties for China’s week-long National Day holiday, which began on Saturday and runs through Friday, after the heads of the eight local governments visited China last month.
The tours exclude several destinations normally popular with Chinese tourists, such as the National Palace Museum and Alishan (阿里山).
If the new itineraries are based on recognition of the so-called “1992 consensus” as a foundation for bilateral exchanges, and if Chinese authorities are pulling the strings, it would show the rigidity of the Chinese regime, National Taiwan Normal University political science professor Fan Shih-ping (范世平) said.
The “1992 consensus” — a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted to making up in 2000 — refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese government that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
Even if the new tours target the eight cities and counties, it will be hard for Chinese tourists to stay out of areas governed by the Democratic Progressive Party and avoid contact with pan-green camp supporters, Fan said.
Even worse, if netizens mock the eight cities and counties as being under Chinese control, then Japanese and South Korean tourists might visit other parts of Taiwan, Fan said.
The difficulties of implementing such a policy might make it counterproductive, he said.
Kou Chien-wen (寇健文), a professor of political science in National Chengchi University’s Graduate Institute of East Asian Studies, said that while China might have wanted to teach the DPP central government a lesson, the move might backfire with local tourism operators, who might question why they are being treated unfairly when they have done nothing wrong.
The move will also give people the impression that “if you do not follow China’s orders, it will not associate with you,” and make them think that Beijing’s previously exchanges and engagements with Taiwan were simply political maneuvering, Kou said.
During their trip to Beijing last month, the six KMT and two independent officials who lead New Taipei City, and Miaoli, Hsinchu, Nantou, Taitung, Hualien, Kinmen and Lienchiang counties, met with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Chairman Yu Zhengsheng (俞正聲) on Sept. 18.
At the meeting, Zhang reiterated that the “one China” principle was the political foundation on which cross-strait exchanges will be conducted.
The eight visitors had one thing in common, “they all acknowledge the 1992 consensus, support the peaceful development of cross-strait ties and hope the hard-earned fruit of cross-strait development will be cherished rather than damaged,” he said.
The Chinese authorities also expressed support for the establishment of a liaison center to promote tourism between the eight cities and counties and areas in China.
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