Taiwan County Leaders Seek to Travel to Beijing Amid Cross-Strait Tourism Spat

Photo Credit: AP/ 達志影像
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A group of Taiwanese county leaders are breaking with the government line on cross-Strait relations and plan to travel to Beijing to woo Chinese tourists.

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A group of county leaders from Taiwan plans to meet officials from the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) in Beijing on Sept. 16 to invite Chinese tourists to visit “counties which recognize the '1992 consensus'” in Taiwan.

It has been reported that in the period from May 20, when President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office, to Aug. 16, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan decreased by 40 percent from 350,000 to 220,500, compared with the same period last year. The exact reasons for the drop in Chinese tourists have yet to be determined; other destinations for Chinese tourists, such as Hong Kong and Macau, have also experienced drops in Chinese arrivals this year.

About 10,000 people took to the streets in Taipei on Sept. 12, calling for government action to help the tourism industry. Although the Executive Yuan on Sept. 8 said it would offer loans totaling NT$30 billion (US$940 million) to the industry, some tour operators said the government’s action would not meet the industry’s urgent needs.

Nantou County Commissioner Lin Ming- chen (林明溱) said tourism is one of his region's most important industries, and it has been facing difficulty amid the declining number of Chinese tourists. He said the crux of the problem was strained Cross-Strait relations. He suggested that rather than marching in protest, it was more effective to go to Beijing and negotiate with the TAO directly.

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Photo Credit: AP/ 達志影像
Tourism industry workers shout and hold slogans reading "No job. No life!" and "Taiwan and Mainland are related" during a march in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Sept. 13, 2016. Thousands of tourism industry workers held a march to call for the government's attention on the decline of Chinese visitors since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May. It's believed that Beijing might have taken the action to tighten its control over Taiwan-bound tourist arrivals after Tsai refused to endorse the concept of a single Chinese nation. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

According to Lin, the leaders who plan to go to Beijing include Hsinchu County Commissioner Chiu Ching-chun (邱鏡淳), Miaoli County Commissioner Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌), and Hualien County Commissioner Fu Kun-Chi (傅崐萁), Kinmen County Commissioner Chen Fu-hai (陳福海). All are from the pro-Kuomintang (KMT) pan-blue camp.

Lin says Chinese tourists were always welcome in the “counties which recognize the '1992 consensus.'" However, whether any linkage actually exists between Chinese tourist arrivals and President Tsai's refusal to acknowledge the "1992 consensus" and "one China" is under dispute.

The so-called 1992 consensus refers to the outcome of a meeting between negotiators from China and Taiwan in 1992. In Taiwan, the main object of dispute over the 1992 consensus is the statement that refers to “both sides recognize there is only one China, but agree to differ on its definition." Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang, says the consensus exists, while the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) denies its existence, although President Tsai earlier this year said in an interview with the Chinese-language Liberty Times that the holding of the meeting in 1992 was a "historical fact."

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole

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