Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) yesterday backed the Tourism Bureau’s decision to withdraw from last month’s Pacific Asia Travel Association’s (PATA) Travel Mart after the organizer insisted on changing the bureau’s name to “Taiwan Strait Tourist Association.”
The annual trade show, which had been scheduled to run in conjunction with the Sichuan International Travel Expo in Sichuan, China, was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We must defend our national sovereignty and dignity. Taiwan is Taiwan, and China cannot obliterate Taiwan’s existence by simply changing the bureau’s name,” Lin said.
Photo courtesy of the Tourism Bureau via CNA
“China’s oppression of Taiwan would harm itself and others. The nation can share with the world how it has effectively contained the COVID-19 outbreak, which is key in developing the tourism industry,” he said. “Despite the withdrawal, we will continue sharing our disease-prevention experiences with the international community through other channels.”
Lin also wrote on Facebook that China had “used its political influence to interfere in the affairs of PATA, a non-governmental organization.”
“It has been proven that China will not win itself any real respect from the international community with its diplomatic threats and economic incentives. Leaders from the US, France and the Philippines have all criticized and challenged China in their addresses at the UN General Assembly this year,” Lin said.
The Bangkok-based association was established in 1951. Taiwan, a founding member, joined under the title, “PATA Chinese Taipei Chapter.”
This year’s PATA Travel Mart was sponsored by the Culture, Radio, Television and Tourism Bureau of Lehsan, a city in Sichuan.
The Tourism Bureau used the name “Taiwan Tourism Bureau” to register for the event, which opened on Sept. 23.
However, on Sept. 9, the bureau discovered that its title had been changed to Taiwan Strait Tourist Association. It lodged several protests against the change.
“We were hoping to share with other participants our disease-prevention efforts and how they have contributed to a booming domestic tourism market, and some of them had interacted with us through the platform before the event opened,” Tourism Bureau Director-General Chang Shi-chung (張錫聰) said. “After we found out on Sept. 9 about the name change, we tried to correct the error by ourselves by going to our Web page for the event. However, the Web page had been removed.”
Chang said that the bureau also attempted to address the issue by sending an official document to PATA headquarters.
PATA responded by saying that the Chinese government had stipulated that no individual or organization could participate in the online event without its approval, Chang said.
“We again issued an official statement and sent it to PATA to protest against such practice and indicate that we were withdrawing,” he said. “We hope that the situation will not happen again in PATA travel marts in other countries.”
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