Tue, Oct 23, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Russia considering relaxed rules for visas

RECIPROCATION:A newspaper reported that the plan is complicated by Moscow’s ‘one China’ policy, but it hopes to find a way, although paperwork could take months

By Lu Yi-hsuan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu addresses a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday confirmed that the Russian government is considering relaxing visa regulations for Republic of China passport holders after Taiwan last month launched a pilot visa-waver program for Russian visitors.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is considering simplifying visa procedures for Taiwanese tourists and business travelers, Russian newspaper Izvestia reported this month.

The plan is complicated by Russia’s “one China” policy, as treating Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) makes it impossible for the Russian government to directly reach an agreement with the government, a Russian diplomat told Izvestia.

However, Moscow is still hoping to find a solution and the paperwork could take two months, the newspaper said.

At a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan, Wu said that “the Russian government has been discussing making some adjustments for Taiwanese accordingly” after the visa-waiver program was started.

Department of West Asian and African Affairs Director-General Liu Bang-zyh (劉邦治) told reporters after the meeting that he hopes to hear good news on the matter by the end of the year.

Separately, Wu said that three UH-1H helicopters and 50 M998 high-mobility wheeled vehicles earmarked as gifts to Burkina Faso cannot be given to another country because the US, which sold them to Taiwan, had not agreed.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) asked about plans for the vehicles with the African nation severing diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Tsai urged the ministry to ensure that the vehicles would not be used in any capacity that might violate human rights.

Wu said that the government would be cautious and ensure that such a thing would not occur.

Meanwhile, the ministry said that a NT$1 million (US$32,342) donation from the government to the WHO announced by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in May was yet to be processed due to Chinese intervention.

Taiwan insists that the donation be in the name of Taiwan or the Republic of China, but that proposition has been rejected by China.

The core problem is political interference, Wu said, adding that “the Chinese factor is difficult to avoid.”

The government has continued to negotiate with the WHO secretariat, Department of International Organizations Director-General Bob Chen (陳龍錦) said.

The WHO has not given up on facilitating the process and Taiwan has expressed a willingness to be flexible, Chen said.

DPP Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) asked Wu whether the ministry has considered making the donation through the US as it did in 2014, but the minister said that was not an option.

Taiwan has been discussing how to process the donation with organizations that have direct communication channels with the WHO, Wu said, adding that if it cannot be processed, the government would consider canceling the donation or using it to benefit global health.

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