Travel agencies suspected of smuggling 5,000 Chinese into Taiwan

Scheme centers on providing fake letters of invitation to obtain travel documents

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Up to 5,000 Chinese might have entered Taiwan illegally.

Up to 5,000 Chinese might have entered Taiwan illegally. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Fake associations provided letters of invitation to 5,000 Chinese, helping them obtain travel documents for short visits to Taiwan, reports said Wednesday (December 11).

Prosecutors were searching five locations and questioning 10 people Wednesday afternoon in an investigation into the plot which was also likely to have involved up to 20 travel agencies, the Central News Agency reported.

The chief suspect, called Hung (洪), reportedly made more than NT$10 million (US$328,000) from the scheme. Chinese and Taiwanese travel agencies would provide data about customers to the nominal associations, who then wrote fake letters of invitation which allowed the Chinese citizens to be allowed into Taiwan under the category of short visits by professionals.

The travel agencies paid NT$2,000 per person to the associations, according to the CNA report. Of the 5,000 Chinese believed to have used this method to enter Taiwan between January 2017 and last June, a considerable number were believed to have been communist government officials.

Because of the scale of the scheme and the number of illegal entries involved, the investigation would need a significant amount of time and personnel, CNA reported. One focus of the case was to find out whether the Chinese visitors had come to Taiwan purely for tourism or whether they had other motives.