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China considers making Taiwanese travelers exempt from entry permits

2015/06/14 21:12:34

Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Chairman Yu Zhengshen (俞正聲)

Xiamen, June 14 (CNA) Beijing sent a goodwill message to Taiwan Sunday at the 2015 Cross-Strait Forum in Xiamen, southern China, offering Taiwanese travelers to China visa-free privileged treatment in the future in its effort to boost exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Yu Zhengshen (俞正聲), chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body, announced the plan to exempt Taiwanese people from travel permits whenever they want to visit China to streamline the existing required travel procedures.

Furthermore, the form of the existing Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents, commonly referred to as the Taiwan compatriot permit (台胞證), will also be changed from a booklet into a card at an appropriate time in the future, Yu went on.

Under the planned measure, Taiwanese travelers will no longer have to apply for an entry permit whenever they plan to take a trip to the mainland, Yu said, expecting the visa exemption program to facilitate travel between the two sides and create better conditions for cross-strait exchanges.

Asked about the program, Hsu Shu-ling (許淑玲), convener of the mainland travel committee under the Travel Agent Association of the Republic of China, said it is now impossible to assess the benefits of the planned visa-exemption program because the mainland authorities have not yet detailed how they will carry it out.

However, such an entry permit exemption "is always convenient and will help save money that would have been otherwise been spent on acquiring such a permit," Hsu said.

Currently, the cost for an entry permit upon arrival in China is 50 Chinese yuan (US$8), and the fee for such a travel permit applied from Taiwan is NT$300 (US$9.7).

Meanwhile, the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top mainland policy planning body, said from Taipei that it will try to acquire more information on the issue since the Chinese authorities have not publicized any details of the proposed privileged treatment for Taiwanese travelers.

The Taiwan compatriot permit is a specific travel document issued by the People's Republic of China government to nationals of the Republic of China (ROC, or commonly known as Taiwan) with household registration in the Taiwan area for entry into China.

The annual Cross-Strait Forum, the seventh of its kind, opened in Xiamen Saturday as one of the largest venues for interaction between the civil and business sectors of the two sides.

(By Emmy Huang, Wang Shu-fen, Chou Yi-ling and Elizabeth Hsu)