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Taiwan Bans New Group Trips to China

In response to Beijing's altering the flight path along the Taiwan Strait median line, Taiwan halted plans to lift a COVID-era ban on group travel to China.



Taiwan Porcupine Strategy CSIS
President Tsai Ing-wen observes training at a military base in southwestern Taiwan's Chiayi County on January 6, 2023. (Provided by the Taiwan President's Office via Kyodo)

TAIPEI — On February 8 (JST), the Tourism Administration of Taiwan announced that it will suspend plans to lift the ban on sales of group tours to China. The agency had originally planned to resume sales of group tours starting March 1.

Taiwan's move is likely a countermeasure to the Chinese authorities' recent actions. At the end of January, Beijing unilaterally announced operational changes to civilian aircraft routes over the Taiwan Strait

China is pushing back against Taiwan's decision, which could further worsen Sino-Taiwanese relations.

According to the Taiwanese newspaper Liberty Times, on February 7, the Tourism Administration notified travel agencies to suspend sales of group tours to China. Travel on tours already sold will be permitted until the end of May. 


In November 2023, Taiwan's Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) announced it would resume group travel to China from March 2024. Following the announcement, travel agents began selling tours to customers in Northeast China, Tibet Autonomous Region, and Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. 

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader President Tsai Ing-wen had suspended group tours to China due to COVID-19. Her administration hoped that reopening group tours between Taiwan and the mainland would facilitate Sino-Taiwanese rapprochement. 

However, China made no move to reciprocate the gesture. In addition, on January 30, China issued a statement saying it would alter the M503 flight route starting from February 1. This modification allows Chinese aircraft to fly closer to the median line of the Taiwan Strait. Beijing has ignored Taipei's vehement protests that this constitutes a unilateral change in the status quo. 



DPP Vice President Lai Ching-te, who will assume the Taiwan presidency in May, spoke on the issue. "Our position of wanting to negotiate with China on an equal footing remains unchanged," he confirmed. He added, "We look forward to a return to normalcy soon." 

Democratic Progressive Party's Lai Ching-te, declares victory in the Taiwan presidential election on January 13, Taipei City. (©Sankei by Kengo Matsumoto)

Meanwhile, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, responsible for China's policy toward Taiwan, slammed the decision. On February 7, office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian criticized it as "an act that impedes cross-strait exchanges between compatriots." She also claimed the move "only serves to undermine our [China and Taiwan's] mutual happiness."


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Akio Yaita

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