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Matsu halts plan to help residents apply for China city pass: MAC

05/09/2024 10:47 PM
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Vice head of Mainland Affairs Council Jan Jyh-horng at a Wednesday press conference. CNA photo May 9, 2024
Vice head of Mainland Affairs Council Jan Jyh-horng at a Wednesday press conference. CNA photo May 9, 2024

Taipei, May 9 (CNA) Lienchiang County (Matsu) government has halted plans to help residents apply for the "Fuzhou-Matsu City Pass," an initiative launched by Fujian Provincial government in China to provide residents of the Taiwan's Matsu Islands with preferential discounts, according to the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).

Lienchiang County government consulted with the MAC in early March after receiving a request from the Chinese authorities to handle applications from Matsu residents interested in obtaining the "Fuzhou-Matsu City Pass," said Jan Jyh-horng (詹志宏), vice head and spokesperson of the MAC, during a press conference on Wednesday.

He stated that the county government halted the plan to assist with applications for the pass after being advised by the council of possible violations of Article 33-1 of the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area.

In applying for the pass, Matsu residents submitted personal information such as copies of their Republic of China (Taiwan) ID cards and Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents, Jan said.

"If it [the county government] hadn't stopped and indeed shared [citizens'] personal information with China, it could have potentially constituted what we call 'cooperative behavior' [in the act]," Jan noted, adding that the county government had subsequently removed promotional content regarding the handling service from its official website.

With a stored value of 300 Chinese yuan (US$41.5), the "Fuzhou-Matsu City Pass" offers benefits to Matsu residents, such as discounts on public transportation and special rates at designated hotels during their stay in Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province, according to local media in Taiwan and information provided by the Fujian government.

A China official presents the first Fuzhou-Matsu City Pass to Lienchiang County Magistrate Wang Chung-ming (left) in February. Photo courtesy of Lienchiang County Government
A China official presents the first Fuzhou-Matsu City Pass to Lienchiang County Magistrate Wang Chung-ming (left) in February. Photo courtesy of Lienchiang County Government

The initiative sparked discussions among members of the public in Taiwan regarding whether China is using it as a means to exert influence on residents of the Matsu Islands.

The "Fuzhou-Matsu City Pass" was mentioned among the 13 measures announced by Fujian government to benefit Taiwanese during a visit by 17 opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers to Beijing from April 26 to 28.

Apart from the monetary subsidy, holders of the pass would also enjoy benefits such as free accomodation for Taiwanese and easier school enrollment for their children, according to a press release from the Fujian government.

Tzeng Wei-feng (曾偉峯), an assistant research fellow at National Chengchi University's Institute of International Relations, told CNA in a previous interview that the moves reflect efforts by China to localize the Taiwan Strait and assert Taiwan as a province of China, which requires only coordination between provinces, not country to country contacts.

(By Sunny Lai)

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