The government has braced for China’s suspension of permits to individual travelers planning visits to Taiwan before elections in January next year, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday, adding that China’s mounting military drills in the region are unwise and irresponsible.
The Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Wednesday abruptly announced in a one-sentence statement that 47 Chinese cities would stop issuing permits for individual tourists to Taiwan from yesterday due to the state of cross-strait relations, without specifying an effective period for the suspension.
Tsai said that she months ago ordered her administration to prepare for such a move by Beijing before the election, and thanked officials for immediately launching plans to boost domestic tourism.
To diminish the tourism industry’s reliance on Chinese visitors, the government has introduced many policies to attract tourists from other countries, she said, adding that the nation last year received a new high of more than 11 million foreign visitors.
Describing China’s suspension of individual travel permits as a “big mistake,” Tsai said that many young Chinese appear more “energetic” when visiting Taiwan after experiencing its free and democratic lifestyle without online limitations and constant surveillance.
China only appears more abominable to Taiwanese when it uses its citizens as a political bargaining chip, she said.
Meanwhile, China’s mounting military drills in regional waters and airspace have disturbed neighboring countries and deepened global distrust of China, Tsai said, describing Beijing’s actions as “unwise” and “irresponsible.”
She called on the public to unite in the face of such threats and reaffirmed the military ability to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty.
Taiwan’s economic performance in the second quarter was better than that of the other three so-called “Asian dragons” — South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore — which demonstrated the nation’s ability to boost the economy in the face of international turbulence, she said, citing data released on Wednesday by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics.
A video of military drills released by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) late on Wednesday was intended to threaten the people of Hong Kong when the territory was at its tensest moment, Tsai said.
Asked if the video suggests that China might use its military to suppress protests in Hong Kong, Tsai said that more observation is needed.
“Beijing is celebrating Armed Forces Day in a most uncivilized fashion. The people of #HongKong are gifted a video of vile threats!” Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ official Twitter account.
“The PLA is supposed to protect the people, not pound them into submission. It’s time for authoritarian China to back off!” he wrote.
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