China eases curbs on tourists visiting Taiwan

China is pledging to ease curbs on tourists visiting Taiwan as part of efforts to win over the people of the island, which it currently lays claim to.

Dai Xiaofeng, a senior official at the Taiwan Affairs Office, said China will soon announce a set of specific regulations on managing trips by Chinese residents to the island.

The total ban on trips was removed last May and now a small number of mainland Chinese travel to Taiwan, although mostly on business. This figure is small compared to the four million trips made by Taiwanese to the mainland last year.

“We hope Taiwan authorities can bow to public opinion and take a practical and positive attitude on the issue of opening up to mainland tourists,” Dai told a news conference.

Taiwan is cautiously welcoming the tourism offer, saying it could accommodate 1,000 Chinese tourists a day. It also may allow them to stay for up to ten days. This could potentially boost hotel sales by up to 15 percent.

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However, no formal negotiations have yet to taken place, despite the visit to Taiwan by China’s tourism minister Shao Qiwei last October. China has restricted visits by citizens to Taiwan since 1949, while Taiwan has its own tough rules limiting mainland visitors. There are still no direct air links between the two on the grounds of national security.
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