Chinese tour to ‘pan-blue’ areas in Taiwan draw mixed response

A tour package proposed by a state-run travel agency in China to parts of Taiwan governed by the "pan-blue" alliance headed by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), has drawn mixed reactions in Taiwan.

Beijing-based China International Services recently launched the Taiwan Affairs Office-endorsed "tour to blue counties and cities" in Taiwan in October, the Apple Daily reported Sunday.

The six-day tour, priced at under NT$20,000 (US$639), was proposed in response to Beijing's call to visit pan-blue-governed counties and cities for sightseeing, the report said.

The heads of pan-blue-led cities and counties welcomed the idea, but Ting Yun-kung (???), spokesman of the "pan-green" Kaohsiung City government, said Taiwan is a colorful place, and "it is a pity for people to only discover one color," according to Apple Daily.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (??) is a heavyweight of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which leads the pro-Taiwan independence "pan-green" camp.

Interaction between Taiwan and China has cooled in many sectors, including tourism, since Tsai Ing-wen (???) of the DPP became president on May 20.

The number of Chinese nationals visiting Taiwan in August fell 32 percent from a year earlier, Tourism Bureau data showed, a decline many feel has been engineered by China's government.

Last month, chiefs or deputy chiefs of eight pan-blue city and counties visited China to promote Taiwan's farm products and tourism. They were warmly welcomed by Chinese authorities and found support for their appeals.

Asked about the controversial Taiwan tour package, New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (???), a KMT member, said he hoped Chinese tourists will continue to come to Taiwan and Taiwan will maintain cooperative relations with China in the agricultural and industrial sectors.

"It is just that we are a window, and (we) hope there will be more tourists who come to Taiwan," Chu said.

Some criticized the tour package as China's attempt to split Taiwanese people, but Chu rejected that argument, suggesting that people open their arms to tourists in the same way as they welcome cross-Taiwan Strait industrial and agricultural cooperation.

Also asked about China's approach, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (???) said Taiwan is a single entity, and he noted that the country's international airports in Taoyuan, Taichung and Kaohsiung are situated in pan-green cities.

"I don't believe those mainlanders can parachute into Taiwan," Ko charged, saying he believes the strategy to split apart Taiwan will be to no avail.

Nevertheless, the mayor of Taiwan's capital said Taipei will still try actively to attract Chinese visitors, and it also has plans to try to draw visitors from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Japan, South Korea and Muslim countries, Ko said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel