DPP welcomes opening of tourism to China, however remains concerned on the readiness of the Ma government

DPP’s Director of Policy Research Committee Chuang Suo-hang and Director of Culture and Information Cheng Wen-tsang held a joint press conference today to address the issue of Chinese tourists coming to Taiwan. Director Chuang expressed that the DPP is optimistic about Chinese tourists coming to Taiwan and had proceeded with negotiations with China under the Macau model in the past when the DPP was in power. However, in order to realize President Ma’s campaign promises, the KMT has opened Taiwan up too quickly and too much to China in such a way that could threaten the national security of Taiwan. As for Premier Liu Chao-shiuan’s suggestion for unrestricted travel after establishing direct flights, Director Cheng emphasizes that this is without adequate consideration and preparation.

Director Chuang pointed out that the KMT has hurried to open up a total of eight airports, including Songshan Airport and Taichung Airport that are used by both civilians and the military, which is a serious national security concern. Exposing Taitung Airport and Hualien Airport poses even more of a security risk as they are also important air defense bases. Furthermore, the fact that direct flights will cross the straits directly and avoid international air defense identification zones will also significantly affect national security. Director Cheng also brought up that potential problems can arise if members of human trafficking groups operating out of the Fujian province in China who also speak the local Minnan dialect of Taiwan take this opportunity to illegally immigrate to Taiwan. Since they will be hard to distinguish from the local population, the government should scrutinize tourist activities and enforce the law accordingly.

Director Chuang also addressed the issue of the fact that only Taoyuan and Kaohsiung Airports’ immunization equipments are properly prepared out of all the airports the KMT government has opened up. It is imperative that the government enforce that proper procedures and preparations are made everywhere to avoid health risks and outbreaks of diseases, as immunization are not even part of the other six airports’ protocol. Taiwan suffered losses of $40 to $50 billion NT every year when the foot and mouth disease plagued Taiwan back in 1996 due to export restrictions to Japan placed on Taiwan. If the disease happens to return as a result of Chinese tourism, the devastating consequences that follow are not the kind easily remedied by small tourist benefits.

Director Chuang also expressed regret that the KMT was in such a hurry to realize President Ma’s campaign promises that they were not persistent enough with Taiwan’s sovereignty. Even though the KMT has announced to set aside the sovereignty dispute, this does not change the fact that China equates the 1992 Consensus with their version of the One-China policy. We have now lost both the titles of the Republic of China and Taiwan with less room to negotiate; even DPP secured cargo flights have been lost.

As for the supposed economic tourist benefits that the KMT are counting on, Director Cheng stated that there were already 4.6 million Taiwanese tourists who traveled to China in 2007. With convenient direct flights to China, Taiwanese tourists in China can likely outspend Chinese tourists in Taiwan. Also, Director Cheng stated that in order to prevent illegal immigration in the past, tourists entered Taiwan and exited as an entire group, allowing certain groups in China to dominate the tourist industry with their package deals. The government will create an unfair market for the Taiwanese tourist industry if it chooses to force Taiwan to open up to Chinese investors in the tourism industry in the future.