Tourism from China falls 68% year-on-year in September
Taipei, Oct. 17 (CNA) Around 44,000 Chinese tourists visited Taiwan in September, constituting a year-on-year decline of 68 percent, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) announced on Thursday.
The decline follows Beijing announcement in August that it would temporarily stop issuing travel permits for independent travel to Taiwan.
In a statement on Wednesday, Ma Hsiao-kuang (馬曉光), spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, blamed the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for the travel restrictions.
"DPP authorities have been constantly agitating for Taiwan independence, provoking hostility against China, and poisoning the atmosphere of cross-strait relations," Ma said.
At a press conference on Thursday, however, MAC spokesman Chiu Chui-Cheng (邱垂正) said the government's position towards China has been consistent, and has focused on maintaining the status-quo.
The unilateral travel restrictions are a violation of independent travel agreements between the two countries, Chiu said.
Citing official figures from the National Immigration Agency, Chiu said that year-on-year, the number of Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan in September dropped 68 percent to 44,000. Of those about 20,000 came with tour groups, while around 24,000 came as independent travelers on travel permits issued before the restriction came into effect.
The group and independent travel numbers represented year-on-year declines of 59 percent and 73 percent respectively, Chiu said.
The MAC also criticized Chinese proposals to build bridges linking Fujian Province with Kinmen and Matsu, saying the islands' residents saw the bridge construction as unnecessary, especially if it is predicated on unification.
China "doesn't just want to build bridges to Kinmen and Matsu, they want to build a bridge to Taiwan," Chiu said.
According to Chiu, the change to the status quo in cross-strait relations is a result of Chinese efforts to push its "one country, two systems" policy, which Chiu dismissed as a "poisoned chalice" to Taiwan.
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