The government’s New Southbound Policy has brought Taiwanese and Filipinos closer, and played a role in prompting Manila to remove Taiwan from its temporary travel ban, Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said yesterday.
Manila on Feb. 2 imposed a temporary travel ban on visitors from China, Hong Kong and Macau, before adding Taiwan to the ban on Monday, citing its “one China” policy.
The Philippine government, after a Cabinet meeting on Friday, decided to lift the ban on Taiwanese, citing Taiwan’s “strict measures” to contain COVID-19.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
Unlike some people’s claims that Manila’s ban indicated a crack in the New Southbound Policy, the policy proved effective at a critical juncture, when Taiwan faced harsh political pressure, Kolas wrote on Facebook yesterday.
Taiwan attempted to offer a win-win situation to the Philippines during their negotiations, she said, citing examples showing the benefits of maintaining bilateral rapport.
In the first 11 months of last year, more than 450,000 Philippine tourists visited Taiwan, up from nearly 420,000 in 2018, while revenue from bilateral trade totaled US$8.24 billion last year, she said.
More than 157,000 Filipinos were working in Taiwan as of December last year, meaning that the same number can continue to earn stable incomes here — another win-win, she said.
Taiwanese investment in the Philippines last year reached NT$78 billion, making Taiwan its seventh-largest foreign investor, while Taiwanese businesses there employ 11,414 workers and boost development in electronics, electrical engineering, trade, food and chemical engineering, she said.
Taiwan’s economic achievements in the Southeast Asia nation over the past years should not be nullified because of pressure from the Chinese governement, she said.
While many countries have lifted travel bans on Taiwanese, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still negotiating with Italy, which banned Taiwanese flights, and Mongolia, which banned Taiwanese travelers, about removing their bans, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said.
Bangladesh last week suspended the issuance of visas on arrival to Taiwanese and Chinese, requiring them to submit medical certificates with visa applications, Ou said.
In related news, Ou said that the ministry is closely monitoring the interaction of China and the Vatican, after Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) met with Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See’s secretary for relations with states, on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference, which began on Friday.
The Vatican is one of Taiwan’s 15 remaining diplomatic allies and its only ally in Europe.
The importance of a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops in China, which Beijing and the Vatican signed on Sept. 22 last year, was highlighted in their meeting, the Vatican News reported.
The agreement is a groundbreaking practice and China is willing to advance mutual understanding with Vatican, Wang said in a news release.
Based on the mutual trust that it has with Taiwan, the Vatican informed Taipei of the meeting, saying that it would not broach political issues, but only express concern over the COVID-19 outbreak, Ou said.
Meanwhile, 105 members of the European Parliament from 10 countries — Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Spain — have written to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urging the WHO to invite Taiwan to join this year’s World Health Assembly and to no longer list Taiwan as part of China, the ministry said.
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan
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