Music association accused of scam over Chinese visas

By Lin Liang-che and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 - Page 3

A music association in Greater Taichung has been accused of illegally helping Chinese to enter the country to attend a recital, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) said.

NIA official Hsiung Te-jen (熊德仁) said the agency’s first task force discovered on Feb. 18 that 99 people from China had entered Taiwan on group tourism or medical tourism visas, but were in fact groups of parents with their children coming to attend a recital in Taichung.

Further investigation showed the participants had participated in preliminary competitions in China’s Gansu Province and Dongguan, Guangdong Province, before coming to Taiwan to attend the finals.

The host of the event was a Chinese by the name of Lee Renjie (李仁傑), who asked a musician, surnamed Yang (楊), teaching at a Taiwanese university, to organize the event and invited other well-known pianists to be judges, the NIA said, adding that the participants of the competition were between 10 and 14 years old and had entered Taiwan with their parents.

Each of the participants paid 4,800 yuan (US$770) to attend the competition and the funds did not include the travel fees that the participants paid to travel agencies to come to Taiwan in tour groups.

The travel agencies, working with Lee, applied for visas on behalf of the participants using the most acceptable reasons for Chinese to visit Taiwan — either for tourism or cosmetic surgery — to avoid the usual preliminary reviews of visa applications, Hsiung said.

Hsiung said that the expensive attendance fees enabled the host to make NT$1 million (US$33,450) per day, adding that coupled with the earnings from the preliminary competitions in China, Lee made staggering profits from the event.

The participants of the recital all left Taiwan after being warned that they had violated the law, but some of the participants’ families were angry that Chinese travel agencies lied to them and brought them to Taiwan only to be deported, and complained to the media and Chinese travel authorities, the NIA said.

The NIA said it had sent official documents to start the process of prosecuting Lee for aiding travelers to enter Taiwan under the guise of tourism and cosmetic surgery.