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Taiwan slams Chinese ban on individual travelers

Transportation minister unveils aid plan for domestic tourism

Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka.

Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Cabinet slammed the Chinese decision to stop issuing travel documents to individual travelers from several Chinese cities beginning August 1 without any prior notice.

The move was either seen as punishment for Taiwan’s support for the anti-extradition bill protests in Hong Kong or as a preventive action to keep Chinese citizens away from Taiwan’s competitive January 11, 2020 presidential and legislative elections.

Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka strongly reproached the Chinese government, saying it had broken agreements without any consultation and punished citizens from both sides instead of the Taiwan government. Beijing should drop its arrogant posture, TV station SETN quoted the spokeswoman as saying.

Despite the absence of any official announcements, travel agents in Taiwan estimated that the Chinese ban would last until after the elections and lead to a reduction of 700,000 visitors. Even with a drop in the number of visitors from China already occurring, Taiwan had been able to make up for the shortfall by attracting more tourists from other Asian countries, especially Southeast Asian nations like Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

The Chinese Communist government was so arrogant that it restricted the freedom of movement of its own citizens, preventing them from getting to know Taiwan better, Kolas Yotaka said. Improving relations was only possible if the people from both sides were allowed to increase contact, she added.

As a reaction to the Chinese measures, Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung immediately responded on Facebook by announcing a sum of NT$3.6 billion for the promotion of domestic travel during the final quarter of the year.