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China to issue e-travel passes for Taiwanese visitors from Sept. 21

Taipei, Sept. 20 (CNA) China's new policy of issuing electronic travel passes to Taiwan visitors will be fully implemented from Monday amid concerns that the new card could encroach upon personal privacy, according to a recent notice issued by the Chinese government. In the public notice issued on Sept. 15, the Chinese government said Taiwan residents can apply to its public security departments above the county level to convert their travel passes into basic computer readable cards. Chinese authorities will stop issuing paper passes on Sept. 21, the notice said. The move follows China's introduction in July of permit-free treatment for Taiwanese visitors, which removed the need for an entry permit that was similar to a visa and implemented instead an IC card that allows automatic entry. The IC card system for Taiwanese travelers was implemented on a trial basis July 1, less than a month after China announced the change, and Taiwan was officially informed of the new policy 20 minutes before it took effect, according to Hsia Li-yan (???), head of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's main agency responsible for China policy. China's unilateral decision to adopt the new IC card at such short notice showed disrespect for Taiwan, Hsia said, during a visit to the United States in July. He said Beijing should pay close attention to the opinions of the Taiwanese people on controversial issues such as China's M503 air route, which hugs the median line in the Taiwan Strait, and the decision to introduce the IC card for Taiwanese travelers to China. During another visit to Washington last month, Hsia repeated his concerns, saying several recent moves by China, including the change to the IC card system and a decision to use a replica of Taiwan's Presidential Office as a target in a military exercise, were "very disrespectful" to Taiwan. China's change to the IC card was viewed with suspicion among other people in Taiwan, who questioned whether it was designed to downgrade Taiwan's status to that of Hong Kong and Macau. The IC card is similar to the "home visit permits" issued to residents of Hong Kong and Macau, China's two special administrative regions which used to be British and Portuguese colonies, the critics said. Some Taiwanese scholars have also expressed concerns over possible information security breaches with the use of the card. Experts have said that the smart chip embedded in the card would make it easy for Taiwanese tourists in China to be subjected to police surveillance. (By C.C. Yin and Evelyn Kao)

Updated : 2021-09-28 21:00 GMT+08:00