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Taiwan accuses China of 'politicizing' tourism

ROC Central News Agency

2016/10/06 22:38:20

Taipei, Oct. 6 (CNA) Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Thursday the government will not accept China's policy of dividing Taiwan into "pan-blue" and "pan-green" areas based on which Chinese visitors follow a "politicized" schedule while traveling around the island.

"The government's policy of welcoming Chinese tourists remains unchanged, but we do not welcome (Beijing's) political arrangement of Chinese tourist schedules in Taiwan," said MAC Vice Chairman Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正).

He added Beijing's actions will "worsen the relations between the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait."

Chiu was replying to a media question about China allowing its citizens to only visit eight Taiwanese cities and counties whose governments are headed by mayors and magistrates who are from the pan-blue camp -- meaning Kuomintang (KMT) and its pro-China allies.

China adopted the policy after eight such local government leaders of Taiwan held a "breakthrough" meeting with Beijing officials on Sept. 18 during which the Taiwanese officials urged China to seek ways to "reset and restart" cross-strait ties, after China froze official contacts with Taiwan in retaliation of President Tsai Ing-wen's refusal to accept the "1992 consensus."

The eight pan-blue administrative areas are Miaoli, Hsinchu, Nantou, Taitung, Hualien, Lienchiang and Kinmen counties and New Taipei City.

All other cities and counties are headed by pan-green politicians, mostly of the Democratic Progressive Party.

Taipei, the capital, is led by an independent mayor considered to be pro-green.

The eight pan-blue leaders uphold the "1992 consensus" -- a tacit agreement reached by Taipei and Beijing officials in Hong Kong in 1992 that there is only one China in the world, but each side is free to interpret what "one China" means.

For Taipei, ruled by the KMT since 1945 until 2000 and then during 2008-2016, that "one China" is the Republic of China. For Beijing, that one China is the People's Republic of China, but it goes on to stress that the "one China" principle embodied in its "1992 consensus" with Taiwan is the political foundation on which cross-strait exchanges must be conducted.

The new situation since Tsai was sworn in on May 20 has created "grave influences and impacts on" every aspect of cross-strait exchanges, making certain cities and counties in Taiwan "feel uneasy," Zhang Zhijun, China's Taiwan affairs minister, said while explaining the background of the Beijing visit by eight predominantly Kuomintang politicians.

Chiu, however, accused China of "unnecessarily creating a domestic division inside Taiwan" by politicizing its policy on tourism exchanges with Taiwan, a policy that he said goes against the purpose of tourist exchanges and does not help the long-term development of cross-strait ties.

During China's National Day holiday from Oct. 1-4, a traditionally peak season for outbound Chinese tourists, the total Chinese tourist arrivals in Taiwan was down 9 percent from the same period of last year, according to Chiu. Since May 20, Chinese tourist visits to Taiwan have declined by 27 percent year-on-year, he added.

At the press conference, Chiu was also asked to comment on a statement by An Fengshan, spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, that Taiwanese people should not underestimate the firm determination of China's 1.3 billion people to maintain national sovereignty and to oppose Taiwan independence.

An's statement was a response to Tsai's remarks, made during a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, that she will not succumb to pressure from Beijing but also will not return to the old path of confrontation.

Chiu said indeed Taiwan and China should not go back to their old path of confrontation -- "a vicious cycle of division, pressuring, confrontation and provocation."

Instead, it's the duty of both sides to show good will toward each other and to keep interacting with patience, dealing with the knotty problems between them in a rational and cool-headed fashion so that they will find a road map for a healthy development of cross-strait ties, Chiu said.

(By Chen Chia-lun and S.C. Chang)

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