Mainland travel program to Taiwan suspended

Chinese demonstrators sing songs and chant slogans while waiting for the arrival of Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen in Los Angeles in August 2018. As Tsai arrived at the Intercontinental Hotel, she was greeted by peaceful Chinese demonstrators of all ages and from all walks of life. They were holding flags, banners and signs bearing the slogan “One China.” The crowd began chanting “One China!” and “Oppose Taiwan Independence!” as Tsai pulled into the hotel. Photo: Wang Rujun

A pilot program that allows residents of 47 Chinese mainland cities to travel to the island of Taiwan on individual trips will be suspended from August 1 due to the current cross-Straits ties, according to a notice issued by the Association for Tourism Exchange across the Taiwan Straits on Wednesday.

Travel agencies such as Ctrip and CYTS told the Global Times that they have already received the notice.

Zhang Hua, an associate research fellow of the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the suspension is clearly the result of current cross-Straits tensions.

“The pro-independence forces in Taiwan have become more and more furious. The recent military exercises by the People’s Liberation Army, especially one around the Dongshan Island that faces Taiwan, sends a strong signal to the ‘Tsai Ing-wen administration’ that if they do not adhere to the 1992 Consensus, the status quo of cross-Straits ties cannot remain,” Zhang said.

This shows that the mainland has the ability, confidence and leverage to deal with provocations from Taiwan independence forces, Zhang added.

The move comes five months ahead of Taiwan elections slated for January 2020.

Xue Qingde, a Taiwan businessman who has been investing in Fujian’s Pingtan county for over a decade, told the Global Times that he wants more exchanges between people from Taiwan and the mainland, but he supports the latest move by mainland authorities as Tsai’s policies are causing the two sides to drift apart.

The program that allows individual mainland tourists to travel to Taiwan began in June 2011. At first it only applied to residents of three major cities – Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen. It was later expanded to include 47 cities in March 2015.