China’s exchanges with 8 Taiwan localities could backfire: scholars

vA move by Chinese tour operators to promote travel to eight cities and counties in Taiwan governed by the Kuomintang-led pan-blue camp could hurt Beijing's efforts to win the hearts and minds of people in Taiwan, Taiwanese scholars said Sunday.

Some Chinese travel agencies have organized tours to the eight cities and counties during China's National Day holiday from Oct. 1 to 7 in response to a call for more cross-Taiwan Strait exchanges after heads of the eight governments visited China on Sept. 18.

The tours exclude several destinations normally popular with Chinese tourists, including the National Palace Museum in Taipei and the Alishan National Scenic Area in Chiayi County.

National Taiwan Normal University political science professor Fan Shih-ping (???) said that if the new itineraries are based on the local governments' recognition of the "1992 consensus" as a political foundation for bilateral exchanges, and if Chinese authorities are pulling the strings behind the scenes, it would show the rigidity of the Chinese regime.

In addition, while Chinese tourists will travel around the eight cities and counties, it will be hard for them to stay out of other areas governed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led pan-green camp and avoid contact with pan-green supporters, Fan said.

Even worse, if netizens make videos mocking the eight cities and counties and saying they have come under China's control, then Japanese and South Korean tourists might visit other parts of Taiwan, Fan suggested.

The professor concluded that if China wants to highlight the special treatment granted to the eight cities and counties, it may not produce the desired effect because of the difficulties involved in implementing such a policy.

Kou Chien-wen (???), a professor of political science in National Chengchi University's Graduate Institute of East Asian Studies, said that while China may have wanted to teach the DPP government a lesson, it may backfire with local tourism operators.

Those operators may question why they were being treated unfairly even when they've done nothing wrong, Kou said.

The move will also give people the impression that "if you do not follow China's orders, it will not associate with you," and make them think that China's previously close exchanges and engagements with Taiwan were simply political maneuvering, Kou argued.

During their visit to China, the Taiwanese delegation met with Yu Zhengsheng (???), chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and Zhang Zhijun (???), head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office.

During their meeting, Zhang reiterated that the "one China" principle embodied in its "1992 consensus" with Taiwan is the political foundation on which cross-strait exchanges will be conducted.

These eight local government leaders have one thing in common, Zhang said.

"They all acknowledge the '1992 consensus' and support the peaceful development of cross-strait ties and they hope the hard-earned fruit of cross-strait development will be cherished rather than damaged," he said.

The Chinese authorities also expressed support for the establishment of a liaison center to promote tourism between the eight Taiwanese cities and counties and various areas of China.

The cities and counties represented by the leaders who went to Beijing were Miaoli County, Hsinchu County, Nantou County, New Taipei City, Taitung County, Hualien County, Kinmen County and Lienchiang County.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel