China halts individual travel to Taiwan


31 July 2019

by Ludovic Ehret with Amber Wang in Taipei

China stepped up pressure on Taiwan on Wednesday as it announced the suspension of individual travel permits to the self-ruled democratic island “due to current cross-strait relations”.

Relations between Communist-ruled Beijing and Taipei have plummeted since President Tsai Ing-wen came to power in 2016 because her party refuses to recognise the idea that Taiwan is part of “one China”.

As punishment, Beijing has cut official communications, ramped up military exercises, poached diplomatic allies and ratcheted up economic pressure on the island.

The latest move comes as Taiwan prepares to hold a presidential election in January, with Beijing-friendly candidate Han Kuo-yu of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party hoping to defeat Tsai.

A programme had allowed Chinese citizens in 47 mainland cities to apply for permits to visit Taiwan on their own instead of visiting on group tours.

But the tourism ministry said in a brief statement that their issuance would be suspended from Thursday “due to current cross-strait relations” — a move that could hurt the island’s economy. The statement did not mention any restrictions on group tours.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, the island’s top policy-making body on China, issued a statement to “sternly protest and condemn” the move, saying it was done unilaterally.

Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said that by blocking mainland tourists, “the Chinese Communists act like they are afraid that the Chinese people will experience the sweet fruits of freedom and democracy.”

For his part, Tsai’s rival Han, who is mayor of Kaohsiung, urged China to “not equate” Taiwan’s people with the DPP, his city government said in a statement.

Weaponisation of tourism’

Taiwan experienced a sharp drop in mainland tourists after Tsai took office in 2016.

Tourism operators attributed the decline to a more negative portrayal of Taiwan in Chinese media, along with scaled-back promotion of tours by major Chinese travel agencies.

Since 2016 China has kept using its tourists as a weapon to threaten the DPP,” Tsai’s party said in its statement.

Taiwan will not bow to such political pressure and Taiwan will open its arms wider to embrace tourists from more countries,” the DPP said.

Mainland arrivals rebounded by around 30 percent in the first half of this year after the KMT won local elections in 2018, according to the Taiwan Visitors Association.

J. Michael Cole, a Taipei-based senior fellow with the Global Taiwan Institute in Washington, said Beijing had hoped that the drop in tourism in 2016 would lead to protests against Tsai, but it had not prevented individuals — who tend to be wealthier — from travelling.

This likely constitutes another round of ‘weaponisation of tourism’ by Beijing to put pressure on the Tsai administration,” Cole told AFP.

It’s reasonable to conclude that this is meant to add to President Tsai’s challenges as she seeks re-election in January, facing off against an opponent from the KMT who claims he will seek better, closer relations with Beijing and thereby help improve the economy.”

Military warning

Han is looking to unseat Tsai in a presidential election dominated by relations with China.

Taiwan has been a de facto sovereign nation since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Chinastill views the island as its territory and has vowed to seize it — by force if necessary.

Han, 62, said in a speech Sunday that the election would be a choice between “peace or crisis” with China.

Tsai, also 62, has described the election as a “fight for freedom and democracy”, setting herself up as someone who can defend Taiwan from an increasingly assertive Beijing.

The Chinese defence ministry issued a white paper last week reiterating Beijing’s willingness to use force to “resolutely defeat anyone attempting to separate Taiwan from China”.

Beijing has also lashed out at Washington over its close ties with Taipei and its plans to sell more weapons to the island.

An American warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait last week. The Chinese military, meanwhile, is holding military exercises southwest and north of Taiwan this week.

Source: HKFP “China halts individual travel to Taiwan”

Note: This is HKFP’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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Beijing Uses Trump’s Taiwan Policy to Create Tension in Taiwan Strait


Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks on the phone with U.S. president-elect Donald Trump at her office in Taipei, Taiwan, in this handout photo made available December 3, 2016. Taiwan Presidential Office/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen speaks on the phone with U.S. president-elect Donald Trump at her office in Taipei, Taiwan, in this handout photo made available December 3, 2016. Taiwan Presidential Office/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

Trump uses Taiwan as a bargaining chip to force Beijing to give the US trade concessions. However, it provides Beijing with the excuse to create tension in Taiwan Strait.

In its report “China says damage to ‘one China’ principle would impact peace” Reuters quotes An Fengshan, a spokesman for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, as saying that the ‘one China’ principle is the political basis of developing China-U.S. relations, and is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

According to Reuters, Mr. An says “If this basis is interfered with or damaged then the healthy, stable development of China-U.S. relations is out of the question, and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait will be seriously impacted”.

That shows that Trump’s interference or damage of the political basis will give Beijing the pretext to attack Taiwan if Beijing wants to take Taiwan by force or to create tension in Taiwan Strait if Beijing wants to scare away investment from Taiwan to make President Tsai Ing-wen unable to achieve much wanted economic growth for Taiwan.

I believe military solution of Taiwan issue is Beijing’s last resort as Beijing has to deal with serious aftermath of the war. Beijing would rather have the excuse to create tension in the strait to scare away investment from Taiwan. Taiwan’s economy will suffer seriously as Beijing will, in addition, cancel the preferential treatment it has provided for the pro-Beijing KMT government.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be found at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-china-taiwan-idUSKBN14309D


Taiwan president calls on China to engage in talks


President Tsai Ing-wen waves during National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

President Tsai Ing-wen waves during National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday urged China to engage in talks, pledging to maintain peace with the island’s giant neighbor, amid a near five-month impasse after Beijing halted official communications with the self-ruled island.

However, Tsai, in her first National Day speech, stopped short of conceding a crucial principle that Beijing has said is needed for talks to resume, that Taiwan is a part of China, also referred to between the two sides as the “1992 consensus”.

Tsai’s proponents have said she has been holding out olive branches to China, but also choosing her words carefully so as not to lose her key anti-China support base at home.

“The two sides of the Strait should sit down and talk as soon as possible,” Tsai said in her address, referring to the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from the mainland.

The National Day address is used by presidents to lay out their position and outlook on relations with China.

“Anything can be included for discussion, as long as it is conducive to the development of cross-Strait peace and the welfare of people on both sides,” Tsai told foreign and domestic dignitaries in a speech broadcast live on television.

But China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said the “1992 consensus” remained the touchstone by which it would engage with Taiwan and judge Tsai.

“Denying the ‘1992 consensus’, inciting confrontation across the Taiwan Strait and severing socioeconomic and cultural ties is an impassable, evil path,” it said.

Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took power in late May after a landslide election win over the incumbent Nationalist party.

Beijing distrusts the DPP because it traditionally advocates independence for Taiwan, which China deems a wayward province to be taken back by force if necessary.

Tsai said she would maintain a consistent, predictable and sustainable relationship with China.

She reiterated that the relationship should be based on the “accumulated outcomes enabled by over 20 years of cross-Strait interactions and negotiations since 1992.”

“Our pledges will not change, and our goodwill will not change. But we will not bow to pressure, and we will of course not revert to the old path of confrontation,” she said.

The so-called “1992 consensus”, which was agreed with a China-friendly Nationalist government, acknowledges Taiwan and China are part of a single China, but allows both sides to interpret who is the ruler.

Last week, Tsai appointed a pro-China politician to be her envoy for a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders next month.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez)

Source: Reuters “Taiwan president calls on China to engage in talks”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Taiwan’s CTBC Financial, China CITIC Bank cancel deals


A man stands in front of CITIC bank's branch in Beijing, China, in this March 23, 2016 file photo. REUTERS/Kim Kyung/File Photo

A man stands in front of CITIC bank’s branch in Beijing, China, in this March 23, 2016 file photo. REUTERS/Kim Kyung/File Photo

CTBC Financial Holdings (2891.TW), parent of Taiwan’s top credit card issuer, and Chinese state-backed lender China CITIC Bank Corp (601998.SS) have canceled investments in each other amid fresh cross-strait political tensions.

It is the first deal collapse since pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader Tsai Ing-wen became president of Taiwan in May, but China CITIC Bank’s president said there was no political aspect to the decision.

“There is not a single political element to it. We are a commercial bank. We can’t play a leading role in politics,” Sun Deshun told a press conference in Beijing.

“This was mainly due to financial regulatory policies in the two locations. And we couldn’t reach agreement on some commercial terms.”

CTBC and China CITIC Bank said in a statement that both parties had agreed to terminate the deal as it had been more than a year since they signed the contract.

Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission Vice Chairman Kuei Hsien-nung said CTBC did not submit applications for the deal as China CITIC Bank had failed to meet a key regulatory requirement.

The requirement is that Chinese banks which invest in Taiwanese banks must have branches in OECD countries for more than five years, he said.

CTBC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

China regards Taiwan as a wayward province and stopped a communication mechanism with the island in June, suspecting Tsai will push for formal independence.

The communication mechanism was introduced following an improvement of ties under Taiwan’s then-president Ma Ying-jeou, who took office in 2008 and signed a series of trade and tourism deals with China.

“The overall environment is not good. These two firms are politically aware … They knew the deals would not gain regulatory approval given the current political climate,” said a PricewaterhouseCoopers executive, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

DPP lawmaker Lo Chih-cheng disagreed.

“I don’t think it’s connected to politics. It would be far-fetched to link this to cross-strait relations,” he said.

In May 2015, CTBC agreed to pay T$11.67 billion ($368.63 million) for the 100 percent stake in China CITIC Bank Corp subsidiary CITIC Bank International (China) Ltd.

In exchange, China CITIC Bank Corp would buy a 3.8 percent stake in CTBC. No price was disclosed..

China’s Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (601398.SS) and Taiwan’s Sinopac Financial Holdings (2890.TW) in September last year said they would let a $600 million investment deal lapse because curbs against mainland Chinese investment in the sector had not been relaxed as hoped.

Earlier this month, CTBC said its subsidiary, CTBC Bank, had canceled a deal to buy a 51 percent stake in the Malaysian branch of Royal Bank of Scotland.

(Additional reporting J.R. Wu, Jeanny Kao and Emily Chan in TAIPEI; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Source: Reuters “Taiwan’s CTBC Financial, China CITIC Bank cancel deals”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China says has stopped communication mechanism with Taiwan


The Chinese government said on Saturday it had stopped a communication mechanism with Taiwan because of the refusal of the self-ruled island’s new government to recognize the “one China” principle, in the latest show of tension between the two.

China, which regards Taiwan as wayward province, is deeply suspicious of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who took office last month, as they suspect she will push for formal independence.

Tsai, who heads the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, says she wants to maintain the status quo with China and is committed to ensuring peace.

But China has insisted she recognize something called the “1992 consensus” reached between China’s Communists and Taiwan’s then-ruling Nationalists, under which both agreed there is only one China, with each having their own interpretation of what that means.

In a brief statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said that since May 20, when Tsai took office, Taiwan has not affirmed this consensus.

“Because the Taiwan side has not acknowledged the 1992 consensus, this joint political basis for showing the one China principle, the cross Taiwan Strait contact and communication mechanism has already stopped,” spokesman An Fengshan said.

The announcement came as Taiwan expressed anger at Cambodia’s deportation of 25 Taiwanese nationals wanted on fraud charges to China on Friday, ignoring attempts by Taiwanese officials to have them returned to the island.

Taipei has accused Beijing of kidnapping when other countries such as Kenya and Malaysia have deported Taiwanese to China, also in fraud cases.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said on Friday it had expressed its concerns to the Taiwan Affairs Office about the Cambodia case using the communication system.

In a statement on Saturday, the council said both sides of the Taiwan Strait had a responsibility to maintain peace and stability.

“The government will continue to keep open the door to communication and dialogue,” it said.

The regular communication mechanism had been ushered in following a rapid improvement of ties under the rule of Taiwan’s then-president Ma Ying-jeou, who took office in 2008 and signed a series of landmark trade and tourism deals with China.

Tsai is currently on her first trip overseas as president, visiting diplomatic allies Panama and Paraguay, with transit stops both ways in the United States.

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan after a civil war with the Communists in 1949, which has never formally ended. China has also never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by J.R. Wu in Taipei; Editing by Ed Davies)

Source: Reuters “China says has stopped communication mechanism with Taiwan”


Taiwan says it has no schedule for resuming China trade talks


Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speaks at a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) meeting in Taipei, Taiwan May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speaks at a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) meeting in Taipei, Taiwan May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Taiwan’s new government has no schedule for re-starting trade talks with China, Economics Minister Lee Chih-kung said on Wednesday, adding that the pro-independence ruling party first wanted to pass a law governing oversight of negotiations with Beijing.

Beijing has already condemned the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) proposed “supervisory law”, and critics in Taiwan say it could paralyze relations with China.

The bill requires government officials to get legislative consent before, during and after any talks with Beijing. They cannot sign any agreements with China before all three stages of legislative approval are completed.

“The cross-Strait supervisory bill is still in parliament. Trade talks need the oversight, so to hold trade talks would be of no use,” Lee said in his first news conference since Friday’s inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen.

The DPP’s Tsai has said democratic principles will rule Taiwan’s ties with Beijing while reiterating her government will keep the peace and forge a consistent, predictable and sustainable relationship.

She urged China in her inaugural speech Friday to “set aside the baggage of history and engage in positive dialogue”.

China has regarded Taiwan as a wayward province to be taken by force if necessary ever since defeated Nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 after a civil war with China’s Communists.

The DPP, which distrusts Beijing and traditionally supports independence for Taiwan, took over the reins of government from the more China-friendly Nationalist Party, which had held power for eight years.

China on Wednesday reiterated its opposition to the DPP’s pro-independence stance, warning of negative consequences if the party fails to recognize Taiwan is a part of China, under a “One China” principle.

“If the ‘One China’ principle cannot be upheld, political mutual trust will no longer exist and is bound to have adverse effects,” said Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, at a regular news conference.

“Everyone is very clear about the DPP’s history. This party adheres to the ‘Taiwan independence’ stance…Obviously, it is precisely the DPP which needs to drop the baggage of history,” he said.

Wang Weixing, a member of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, published a commentary on Tuesday saying Tsai’s leadership style was “emotional” and “extreme” because she was single.

The commentary, which was first published in the International Herald Leader and re-posted on many Chinese websites including that of the official Xinhua news agency, was later deleted from Chinese news sites, after facing ridicule from Chinese social media users who called the piece sexist.

(Reporting by Jeanny Kao; Additional reporting by Michael Martina and Megha Rajagopalan in BEIJING; Writing by Faith Hung and J.R. Wu; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Nick Macfie)

Source: Reuters “Taiwan says it has no schedule for resuming China trade talks”


New Taiwan president pledges peace, urges China to drop historical baggage


Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (L) receives an official seal after swearing in at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan May 20, 2016. REUTERS/Taipei Photojournalists Association/Pool

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (L) receives an official seal after swearing in at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan May 20, 2016. REUTERS/Taipei Photojournalists Association/Pool

Taiwan’s new president urged China on Friday to “drop the baggage of history” in an otherwise conciliatory inauguration speech that Beijing’s Communist Party rulers had been watching for any move towards independence.

President Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in with Taiwan’s export-driven economy on the ropes and China, which views the self-ruled island as its own, looking across the Taiwan Strait for anti-Beijing sentiment that could further sour economic ties.

Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has traditionally favored independence, won parliamentary and presidential elections by a landslide in January on a voter backlash against creeping dependence on China. It takes over after eight years under China-friendly Nationalist Ma Ying-jeou.

Taiwan’s new president urged China on Friday to “drop the baggage of history” in an otherwise conciliatory inauguration speech that Beijing’s Communist Party rulers had been watching for any move towards independence.

President Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in with Taiwan’s export-driven economy on the ropes and China, which views the self-ruled island as its own, looking across the Taiwan Strait for anti-Beijing sentiment that could further sour economic ties.

Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has traditionally favored independence, won parliamentary and presidential elections by a landslide in January on a voter backlash against creeping dependence on China. It takes over after eight years under China-friendly Nationalist Ma Ying-jeou.

Tsai, Taiwan’s first woman president, said Taiwan would play a responsible role and be a “staunch guardian of peace” with China.

“Cross-Strait relations have become an integral part of building regional peace and collective security,” she told thousands outside the presidential office.

“The two governing parties across the Strait must set aside the baggage of history and engage in positive dialogue for the benefit of the people on both sides.”

China, which has never renounced force to take control of what it considers a renegade province, said this month the new Taiwan government would be to blame for any crisis that might erupt.

Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled to Taiwan after losing the civil war to the Communists in China in 1949. China has pressured the new government to stick to the “one China” principle agreed with the Nationalists. That allows each side to interpret what “one China” means.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Tsai’s remarks were an “incomplete answer”, warning that China saw any push for Taiwan independence as “the biggest menace to peace across the Taiwan Strait”, according to the official Xinhua news agency

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, asked about the inauguration, merely praised the record of the “one China” policy.

“Regardless of what internal changes take place within Taiwan, China will uphold the one China principle and oppose Taiwanese independence,” she told a briefing.

LET’S SET ASIDE DISPUTES”

In a sign of a deteriorating economy, Taiwan’s export orders fell more than expected in April, their 13th straight month of decline, according to data released on Friday, as demand in China and other global markets remained weak.

Taiwan markets reacted calmly to Tsai’s speech. The main stock index reached an intraday high as she spoke, before closing 0.4 percent higher.

Tsai pledged to abide by the constitution of the Republic of China, Taiwan’s formal name, and promised to safeguard the island’s sovereignty and territory.

She also mentioned the East China and South China Seas, where an increasingly muscular China has been at odds over territorial claims with its neighbors.

“Regarding problems arising in the East China Sea and South China Sea, we propose setting aside disputes so as to enable joint development,” she said.

The American Institute in Taiwan, which represents U.S. interests in the island in the absence of formal diplomatic ties, said it looked forward to working with the new government.

The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979 but is also Taiwan’s biggest ally and arms supplier.

China is deeply distrustful of Tsai’s DPP, whose charter includes a clause promoting “a sovereign and independent Republic of Taiwan”.

Voted in by a Taiwanese public equally distrustful of growing economic dependence on China, the DPP also champions Taiwan’s own history. There were massive protests in 2014 that stalled a trade pact with China and were a key element of the DPP’s rise.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in WASHINGTON and Megha Rajagopalan in BEIJING; Editing by Paul Tait and Nick Macfie)

Source: Reuters “New Taiwan president pledges peace, urges China to drop historical baggage”