Chinese tourist numbers declined 68% last month

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Oct 19, 2019 - Page 3

About 44,000 Chinese tourists visited Taiwan last month, down 68 percent from a year earlier, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said on Thursday, citing figures from the National Immigration Agency.

The decline follows Beijing’s August announcement that it would temporarily stop issuing travel permits for independent travel to Taiwan.

Of the 44,000 Chinese visitors, about 20,000 came with tour groups, while about 24,000 came as independent travelers using permits issued before the restriction came into effect, Chiu said.

Those represented declines of 59 percent and 73 percent respectively, he said.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Hsiao-kuang (馬曉光) on Wednesday blamed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for the travel restrictions.

“DPP authorities have been constantly agitating for Taiwan independence, provoking hostility against China and poisoning the atmosphere of cross-strait relations,” Ma said in a statement.

Chiu said the government’s position toward China has been consistent and has focused on maintaining the “status quo.”

The unilateral travel restrictions are a violation of independent travel agreements between the two countries, Chiu said.

The council also criticized Chinese proposals to build bridges linking Fujian Province with Kinmen and Matsu, saying the islands’ residents saw the bridge construction as unnecessary, especially if it is predicated on unification.

China “doesn’t just want to build bridges to Kinmen and Matsu, they want to build a bridge to Taiwan,” Chiu said.

Changes to the “status quo” in cross-strait relations are a result of Chinese efforts to push its “one country, two systems” policy, which Chiu described as a “poisoned chalice” to Taiwan.