Chinese who had sought to enter Taiwan for a religious event were not granted visas because they were not “religious personnel” and planned to visit places not listed on their group tour’s itinerary, then never supplied supplemental information upon request, the Ministry of the Interior and the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday.
Visas were not issued for 218 of the 239 applicants, as they did not provide additional information or explanations as requested, Minister of the Interior Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) told a committee at the legislature in Taipei.
Multiple groups, including the Taiwan Matsu Fellowship, had signed a petition that sought permission to bring a statue of Matsu from Meizhou Island in China’s Fujian Province to tour Taiwan.
The temple was quick to respond and arranged for a visit from Nov. 3 to 13.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) on Wednesday accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of making an “arbitrary” decision to reject visa applications out of malice.
TAO spokesman Chen Binhua (陳斌華) asked why an application by Hui Ju Matsu Temple in China’s Jiangsu Province was approved, while the Meizhou temple’s application was denied.
The ministry said it had asked visa applicants to prove that they were not affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Chinese People’s Liberation Army or the Chinese government, as they were not affiliated with the temple.
Separately, MAC Minister Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) also denied claims that the ministry had wrongly denied visa applications.
The ministry has stated that the documents submitted were incomplete or erroneous, and it asked the temple to submit further information and details about the trip, Chiu said.
Agencies on both sides are familiar with the process, which is the same as when religious interaction across the Taiwan Strait was more frequent, he said.
Chiu urged the CCP to refrain from using religion as a tool to advance its “unified front” rhetoric while also promoting a secular worldview, adding that devout Taiwanese would not believe such politically motivated accusations.
At the International Conference on the Chinese Path to Modernization under One-Party Rule forum at the Shangri La Far Eastern Hotel in Taipei later yesterday, Chiu called on Beijing to live up to its obligations as a great power, maintain peace and stability in the international community, and cease its threats against Taiwan.
If China’s claims to foster “modern socialism with Chinese characteristics” and its plans to promote “common prosperity” fail to guarantee fundamental human rights, a free and democratic way of life, and a higher standard of living for its citizens, its claims are only propaganda to prop up its autocratic government, he said.
Beijing should uphold global peace, which is the only way for it to be genuinely respected by the international community, he added.
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