Relations between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan have typically been tense. The large communist country – the world’s largest by population – has generally grouped Taiwan inside of its own borders, claiming that the country’s territory belongs to China and its government is operating within the country illegally. Taiwan, on the other hand, has kept its independence from the PRC.
Surprisingly, a new policy supporting individual travel to the island nation has emerged, granting residents of mainland China the opportunity to travel to Taiwan alone. While the Chinese national government is not supportive of Taiwan’s efforts to remain independent, it wishes to bridge gaps in the two countries’ cultures by encouraging travel to the island.
Chinese citizens are currently banned from travelling to Taiwan alone, due to government fears that they may remain on the island illegally. Group tours are available for Chinese citizens, giving those from the country’s eastern regions the opportunity to visit Taiwan on a limited visa. Taipei recently held a travel fair encouraging Chinese tourism, which attracted over 100,000 mainland visitors.
A new policy for Sino-Taiwan travel is on the way, although government officials believe it could be some time before anything resembling a complete bill is passed. Due to China’s rapid economic development, more citizens than ever are gaining an interest in international travel. Tours to Hong Kong and Macau, the country’s two Special Economic Regions, is increasing every year.
For Taiwan, the link in tourism reflects an increasingly friendly turn in relations between the two countries. Cross-strait tourism operators are positive that the change will bring benefits to Taiwan and China, claiming that an increase in cultural understanding will pave the wave for cross-strait economic partnerships and an increase in tourism revenues.