China reportedly to reduce number of tourists heading for Taiwan in 3 stages

Tourists from China visiting the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall in Taipei.
Tourists from China visiting the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall in Taipei.PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (THE CHINA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Chinese authorities have reportedly planned to reduce the number of Taiwan-bound Chinese tourists in three stages by the end of the year, and the total number of tourist arrivals from mainland China is estimated to fall to under two million in 2016, down sharply from the 3.85 million arrivals recorded in 2015, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported on Friday (June 10).

In the first stage, starting from March 20 through June 20, Beijing plans to cut the number of Chinese tourists bound for Taiwan by one third, or 50,000, from the original monthly quota of 150,000. The figure will be further axed to only 37,500 starting on Oct 15, the newspaper said.

Beijing is taking the action to tighten its control over Taiwan-bound tourist arrivals, after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen avoided using the term "1992 Consensus" in her inauguration speech.

Accordingly, Ms Tsai's speech was dubbed by Beijing as an "incomplete answer sheet".

The consensus, reached in 1992 at a meeting in Hong Kong between both sides of the Strait, refers to a tacit agreement that there is only "one China" but either side can interpret "China" on its own. Beijing has regarded the consensus as the foundation for developing cross-strait exchanges.

Cross-strait ties caught in a stalemate Various cross-strait exchanges have been caught in a stalemate since Ms Tsai took office on May 20.

Ms Tsai remained tight-lipped about the "1992 Consensus" even at a recent dinner party with representatives from Taiwanese businesses operating in the mainland who returned to Taiwan for the Dragon Boat Festival.

Informed sources said that the official communications channel between Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Office (MAC) and the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, and the semi-official exchange mechanism between the Taipei's Straits Exchange Foundation and Beijing's Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits have been closed.

But MAC officials said that the doors are not completely shut, remaining ajar to allow low-level exchanges of messages and information.

The officials also said that the new government in Taiwan is trying to keep in contact with the other side of the Strait through phone calls, faxes or the WeChat messaging platform.

"We have yet to receive any response from the other side of the Strait, but at least they have 'read' our messages," an MAC official said.

The MAC also tried to use some unofficial channels to express its hope for maintaining normal exchanges with mainland China, yet in vain.

"We hope such a 'transitional situation' can come to an end soon. If the existing bilateral pacts already signed fail to be implemented, then people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait will suffer," the official said.