China to lift individual travel ban for Taiwan's offshore counties
Taipei, Sept. 16 (CNA) China's ban on individual Chinese travelers visiting three of Taiwan's offshore counties will be lifted effective Sept. 20, the Kinmen County government announced Monday.
Since Aug. 1, Beijing has banned individual tourists from 47 Chinese cities from traveling to Taiwan, citing the current state of relations between the two sides.
Following more than a month of negotiations, Kinmen, along with Penghu and Lienchiang (Matsu), convinced Beijing to lift the ban for their counties beginning this week, the county government said in a statement. Applications for individual travelers from 20 cities in China's four major provinces -- Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Guangdong -- will be accepted again beginning Friday, it said.
Kinmen County Magistrate Yang Cheng-wu (楊鎮浯) said the ban has had a huge impact on the county's tourism and related sectors, noting that the announcement was a major boost in morale.
Yang, together with Penghu County chief Lai Feng-wei (賴峰偉), and Lienchiang County chief Liu Cheng-ying (劉增應), visited Beijing on Aug. 12 to meet with Liu Jieyi (劉結一), director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, to ask China to remove their islands from the ban on individual travel by Chinese nationals to Taiwan.
It was the first time Beijing had banned independent travelers from visiting Taiwan since such trips started in June 2011.
Previously, residents of 47 major Chinese cities were able to visit Taiwan as independent travelers, while all others who wished to visit had to apply through selected travel agencies.
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