China-Taiwan tourist deal nearly finalized


Beginning later this month, a maximum of 500 individual Chinese tourists could be allowed to visit Taiwan daily, the Mainland Affairs Council said yesterday without providing further details of the process.

Chinese residents from Shanghai and Beijing will be eligible to visit Taiwan as independent tourists, with residents from Xiamen also likely to be able to apply for such visits once the two sides finalize the procedures, the council said.

“We are in the final stage of confirming the final details and procedures. Hopefully the plan will be formally introduced by the end of this month,” Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun told a press conference.

Applicants for individual visits will either have to be students older than 18 or non-students who are at least 20 years old. Applications will have to be made through travel agencies and applicants will be allowed to be accompanied by their spouses and direct relatives.

National Immigration Agency Deputy Director-General Ho Jung-tsun said applicants should prepare financial statements and the names of relatives who can stand as guarantors, as well as provide a simple travel itinerary with information such as the hotels they plan to stay at.

Eligible Chinese visitors will be allowed to stay in Taiwan for a maximum of 15 days, and those who fail to follow the regulations will be barred entry to Taiwan for three years. Travel agencies that handle individual Chinese tourist visits will also be held responsible for any violations of the regulations.

Liu would not provide an exact timetable of when individual Chinese tourists would be allowed entry to Taiwan. It is expected that the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait will jointly announce the details of the plan in Taipei next Wednesday following a meeting to examine the cross-strait agreements signed by the two sides.

The number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan has increased to an average of 3,600 a day since the daily quota was raised from 3,000 to 4,000 early this year, but they have been required to travel as part of organized groups.

With the implementation of the plan, the government has been negotiating with China to increase the number of night-time flights between Taiwan and certain Chinese cities, with the aim of increasing the number from 370 a week to 500.

The council said the government would also set up a joint service center for individual Chinese tourists with staff from the council, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Ministry of Interior stationed at the center to handle emergencies.