Tue, Nov 05, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Experts warn on use of Chinese ‘travel document’

By Hsiao Yu-hsin and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

China’s new temporary passport replacement that it yesterday announced would be made available to Taiwanese allows visa-free travel to fewer than half the nations that accept a Taiwanese passport, an academic said yesterday.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office announced 26 new measures to facilitate “cross-strait economic and cultural exchanges,” one of which is to provide consular services to Taiwanese through China’s embassies and consulates.

The measures are part of China’s “united front” efforts to unify China and Taiwan, and to “mainlandize” Taiwanese, Providence University Department of Tourism associate professor Huang Cheng-tsung (黃正聰) said.

The “travel document” is less useful than a Taiwanese passport, Huang said, adding that it comes with the risk of handing personal information over to the Chinese Communist Party.

That information could be leveraged by Beijing as part of its “united front” efforts, he said.

A Taiwanese applying for an identification document intended for People’s Republic of China citizens might also be putting their Republic of China citizenship at risk, a situation the Mainland Affairs Council has warned about, Chung Hsing Travel Service chairman Lee Chi-yueh (李奇嶽) said.

China has introduced the measure ahead of the winter travel season, as there might be Taiwanese travelers abroad in need of emergency consular services or travel documents, Lee said, adding that there are far more Chinese embassies and consulates than Taiwanese overseas representative offices.

“There have been cases in the past of Taiwanese seeking assistance from Chinese embassies,” Lee said, citing a coup in Egypt in 2013 when Taiwanese left the nation via Chinese aircraft to Beijing, where they transferred to Taiwan.

Taiwanese can apply for the travel document if they want to travel to a nation where Taiwanese generally have trouble obtaining visas, or if they have lost their passport, he said.

When Taiwanese want to travel to Russia or Central Asian nations, they first have to visit China, obtain a travel document and then continue on their journey, he said, adding that this was much faster than applying directly to those nations for visas.

If a Taiwanese loses their passport while in one of those nations they would be able to save time and money by obtaining a travel document from the Chinese embassy, Lee said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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