Chinese tourists will not be allowed to engage in campaign activities for the coming presidential and legislative elections, Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah said yesterday, adding that serious violators may be expelled from the country.
Jiang made the comments while fielding questions from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng at the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee meeting.
“I would like to know if government agencies are ready to handle situations wherein Chinese tourists are involved in campaign activities, since the presidential and legislative elections are approaching and we have lifted the ban on independent Chinese travelers visiting the country,” Wu said.
“Are they allowed to take part in campaign events? Are they allowed to wave candidates’ flags? Or are they allowed to wear campaign caps bearing candidates’ names?” Wu asked.
Chinese tourists were previously only allowed to visit Taiwan in groups, but since June 28, independent travelers have been allowed to visit as well, causing concern because there would be no tour guide to remind independent travelers of what they may and may not do.
Because of the sensitive relationship between Taiwan and China, clashes could break out between Chinese tourists and locals at campaign rallies when emotions run high, Wu said.
Jiang said it would not be a problem if a Chinese tourist were to appear at a campaign rally, “but obviously he or she cannot get on stage, wave a candidate’s campaign flag, shout encouragement for a candidate or distribute flyers for a candidate because these are all considered ‘campaign activities.’”
According to the Immigration Act, foreign visitors may not engage in activities different from the purpose of travel declared in their visa application.
Serious violators may be expelled from the country according to the law, he said.
However, there are gray areas, he said.
“Would it be considered campaigning if a Chinese tourist were to hold a glow stick at a campaign rally?” he asked.
“I’ll ask the relevant agencies to make a clear list of what is allowed and what is not, so that first-line law enforcement personnel will be better prepared,” he said.