Sat, Jul 15, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Latest visa-free treatment comes with restrictions

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan on Wednesday introduced new rules allowing visa-free entry to citizens of 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries, but restrictions are in place to guard against Chinese infiltration, a government official said yesterday, citing concerns over some of these nations’ investment-based naturalization policies.

“Other countries that we earlier granted visa-free entry to also allow naturalization based on investment, but the process usually takes several years and involves giving up their original citizenship,” an official who requested anonymity said.

As a safeguard, the birthplace of passport holders from several Latin American nations would be scrutinized during the entry process to ensure that Chinese citizens still abide by requirements for entry according to the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例).

The restrictions would apply to passport holders from Honduras, Belize, Saint Lucia, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Passport birthplace may also be used to deny visa-free entry to Belize, Saint Lucia, and Saint Kitts and Nevis passport holders born in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Yemen.

Other diplomatic allies have yet to request visa-free entry treatment, but are already allowed to apply for streamlined e-visas (online visas), the official said.

A new wave of relaxed entry measures are being considered for nations targeted by the government’s New Southbound Policy, such as Indonesia, Vietnam and India, the official added.

Trial visa-free entry for passport holders from the Philippines are expected to begin after the conclusion of the Taipei Universiade next month, the official said, citing security concerns over Muslim separatists.

While Thailand has so far refused to reciprocate and provide visa-free entry for Republic of China passport holders, negotiations are ongoing and reciprocation would be taken into consideration when the trial period for Thailand ends next year and permanent visa-free rights are considered, the official said.

Thailand already provides free landing visas for Taiwanese, the official added.

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