Former minister of transportation and communications Chen Chien-yu (陳建宇) yesterday called the government’s handling of a controversy surrounding China’s activation of northbound flight route M503 and three extension routes “suicidal,” saying that the government’s actions so far would only hurt Taiwanese in China.
Chen made the comments before addressing a tourism forum in Taipei hosted by the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) National Policy Foundation think tank and several tourism associations.
Some technical issues should not be resolved in a political manner, he said.
Photo courtesy of National Policy Foundation
“Similar cases might have occurred in other nations, which we could use as a reference,” Chen said. “We are confronting a country much bigger than us. Rather than handling the situation with might, we should handle it with smart moves.”
“To me personally, it has been shocking to see how the situation has been handled. The government only looked at the front and ignored the back. What the government has done is suicidal and absolutely disappointing,” he said. “It will only hurt Taiwanese living in China.”
Taiwan was able to reach an agreement with China in 2015 about conditions that must be met to activate the northbound M503 route and three extension routes, KMT Chairman Wu Duen-yih (吳敦義) said, asking why the Democratic Progressive Party administration did not follow suit.
The failure to reach a bilateral agreement with China on the four routes has caused two Chinese airlines to cancel requests for 176 additional flights, which would inconvenience Taiwanese working and studying in China when they try to return home for the Lunar New Year holiday, he said.
“Why would this administration rather punish its own people by causing them to spend more time and money to get home instead of communicating with China to minimize the effects of the aviation routes,” Wu said.
He described the “status quo” of cross-strait relations as “one of the two parties has read a text message and chosen not to respond,” which he said needs to change.
While it is necessary to cultivate tourism from Southeast Asia, the government should not give up on Chinese tourists, who have greater purchasing power and normally spend more time traveling around Taiwan than Southeast Asian tourists, Wu said.
Southeast Asian tourists spend an average of four days in Taiwan, while Chinese tourists usually spend eight days, he said.
Travel Agent Association chairman Hsiao Bo-jen (蕭博仁) said the Chinese tourism market had stopped developing from April last year.
The nation should not let go of the Chinese tourist market, Hsiao said, adding that politics should play no role in the development of tourism.
There is still a way to revive cross-strait tourism, he said.
However, that way is getting narrower following the controversy over the M503 route, he added.
“If Taiwan and China can find their ways back to the negotiating table and communicate, everyone benefits and the nation’s tourism industry would still have room to grow,” Hsiao said.
As cross-strait tourism can be expected to be affected by politics over the next two years, it is necessary to find business in Southeast Asia, in line with the government’s New Southbound Policy, he said.
However, tourists from the countries targeted by the New Southbound Policy spend an average of three-and-half days in Taiwan, and the attractions they visit are mostly in the north, Hsiao said.
Travel operators in central and southern Taiwan would have to change the way they operate, he said.
“We have to change our thinking when offering tours to tourists from the countries targeted by the New Southbound Policy,” Hsiao said.
The chief mechanic in an air force unit from which an F-16 and its pilot went missing last week died on Sunday evening in what might have been a suicide, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday. The ministry in a statement confirmed media reports that the mechanic, surnamed Huang (黃), “hurt himself” at a military barracks. Huang was taken to Hualien Armed Forces General Hospital after he was found unresponsive in the barracks, but doctors could not revive him, the ministry said. Huang served in the 26th Tactical Fighter Group of the 5th Tactical Fighter Wing, the same unit as the missing
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) last night said that it had no comment about reports that a senior US Navy officer had arrived in Taipei for a visit. Several media outlets reported that Rear Admiral Michael Studeman, director of intelligence of the US Indo-Pacific Command, arrived at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) on a special charter flight at about 7pm. The schedule of a “senior US official” in Taiwan would not be made public, the ministry said in a news release, without confirming the visit or the official’s identity. Interactions and exchanges between Taiwan and the US are common, and visits
NON-TYPICAL: Apart from Atsani, storms in autumn missed Taiwan, rainfall has been lower and average temperatures have been higher, a CWB forecaster said The current water shortage is expected to worsen in the next few months, with the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) yesterday forecasting a colder, dryer winter than normal. With winter starting next week, the bureau at a media briefing outlined the expected conditions through February and reviewed autumn’s significant weather events. Weather Forecast Center director Lu Kuo-cheng (呂國臣) said that autumn this year had three major characteristics: First, 13 tropical storms and typhoons formed from September to this month, up from 11 in the same period last year, Lu said. Apart from Atsani, for which sea and land alerts were issued in Taiwan, the tropical
‘VIRUS DIPLOMACY’: The nation’s expertise in handling COVID-19 was among the reasons that it should not be excluded from the WHO, the European Parliament said The European Parliament this week passed resolutions that support Taiwan’s bid to participate in the WHO and its intention to negotiate a trade pact with Taiwan. During its plenary session from Monday to Thursday, the parliament approved resolutions on the foreign policy consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak and the EU’s trade policy, parts of which were viewed as friendly toward Taiwan by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In a statement yesterday, the ministry welcomed the passage of the resolutions and thanked the parliament for its support for Taiwan. In the first resolution, the parliament cited Beijing’s increasing threats to Taiwan, the crackdown on