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3,000 Matsu residents apply for China travel membership card: NSB

05/13/2024 02:48 PM
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Lienchiang County Magistrate Wang Chung-ming (left) shakes hands with Chinese official Lin Baojin at the launch of the "Fuzhou-Matsu City Pass" in the Chinese city of Fuzhou in February 2024. File photo courtesy of Lienchiang County government
Lienchiang County Magistrate Wang Chung-ming (left) shakes hands with Chinese official Lin Baojin at the launch of the "Fuzhou-Matsu City Pass" in the Chinese city of Fuzhou in February 2024. File photo courtesy of Lienchiang County government

Taipei, May 13 (CNA) Some 3,000 residents of Taiwan's Matsu Islands have applied for a membership card that gives them discounts during visits to the Chinese city of Fuzhou, Taiwan's deputy national security chief said Monday.

Hsu Hsi-hsiang (徐錫祥), deputy director-general of the National Security Bureau (NSB), said during a legislative hearing that the bureau has been closely monitoring the controversies surrounding the "Fuzhou-Matsu City Pass," an initiative launched in late February by the Fujian provincial government to offer preferential discounts to visitors from the Matsu Islands.

The NSB has learned that as of Monday, about 3,000 Matsu residents had applied for the card, Hsu said, adding that all relevant information obtained by the NSB is being passed on to the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's top government agency in charge of China affairs.

Hsu declined to say whether the Lienchiang County (Matsu) government was breaching Taiwan law by helping residents to apply for the cards, specifically the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area.

That determination would have to be made by the MAC, he said, in response to a question by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Lin Chu-yin (林楚茵) on the issue, during the legislative hearing.

Lin said the Lienchiang County government may have violated the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area by helping county residents to apply for the Fuzhou-Matsu City Pass.

Citing Article 33-1 of the law, Lin said no government agency in Taiwan is allowed to engage in cooperative actions with its Chinese counterpart, unless it obtains central government permission to do so.

Lin and other DPP lawmakers have said that the "Fuzhou-Matsu City Pass" is part of China's efforts to beguile Taiwanese to support ultimate unification between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. They have alleged that the Lienchiang County government is working with the Chinese government to achieve that goal.

On May 8, MAC Deputy Minister Jan Jyh-horng (詹志宏) said the Lienchiang County government had consulted the MAC in early March after receiving a request from Chinese authorities to help handle applications for the "Fuzhou-Matsu City Pass."

MAC advised that such a move would violate Article 33-1 of the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, Jan said, adding that the county government subsequently halted its plans to help facilitate the applications.

According to media reports in China and Taiwan, however, at least one batch of membership cards was issued to Matsu residents on May 6 by the Fujian Province government.

Apart from travel subsidies, the membership card also allows holders to easily enroll their children in Fuzhou schools, according to a press release issued in February by the Fujian provincial government.

The membership card was also mentioned by the Chinese central government, when it announced 13 beneficial initiatives aimed at Taiwanese, during a visit by 17 opposition Kuomintang lawmakers to Beijing April 26-28.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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