TAIPEI • A new electronic entry card for Taiwanese visitors to China has sparked protests and a political backlash despite Beijing touting the move as a way to make travel easier.
China introduced the card on Monday after announcing it in June, but Taiwan said it was not told of the roll-out.
The island's Mainland Affairs Council - its top China policy decision-making body - said in a statement there had not been "proper communication" in advance of the launch and the way China is doing it "has hurt the feelings of Taiwan people".
Taiwan's Premier Mao Chi-kuo said he was "extremely dissatisfied" adding that he had been given no prior notice of the move.
Around 20 members of the anti- China Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) threw eggs and let off firecrackers outside Beijing-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou's residence on Tuesday night in protest.
"The cards may benefit some Taiwanese businessmen and students in China, but the policy is aimed at downgrading Taiwan to the level of Hong Kong and Macau (both semi-autonomous regions of China)," TSU spokesman Chang Chao-lin said yesterday.
Self-ruling Taiwan split from China at the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949, but Beijing still sees the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification.
It does not recognise Taiwanese passports.
The card had already been on trial for visitors to Fujian for two months. China says it is part of wider measures to reduce barriers with Taiwan.