Travel ban just one of many options involving Taiwan
The trial run of a program under which residents from 47 mainland cities can visit Taiwan as individual tourists will be suspended starting on Thursday. The mainland-based Association for Tourism Exchange across the Taiwan Straits said on Wednesday that the decision was made based on the current situation of cross-straits ties.
Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen has openly rejected the “one country, two systems” framework as the way to settle the Taiwan question. Beijing won’t always show tolerance for Tsai’s words.
The suspension on individual travel is an economic card played by Beijing to give a warning to Taipei. The mainland is an important source of tourists for Taiwan, with more than 1.6 million mainland visitors reportedly arriving in the island in the first half of the year, up 28 percent from a year earlier, according to the data from the transportation and communications authority of Taiwan. Suspending tourist travel permits to Taiwan will deal a blow to the already weak economy in the island.
The ban sends a clear signal to Tsai. Due to her hard-line stance against the Chinese mainland, Beijing won’t continue encouraging Taipei to enjoy the economic driving force from the mainland by promoting cross-straits economic cooperation and interaction.
Taiwan’s heavy dependence on the mainland economy gives Beijing plenty of economic options in cracking down on Taiwan secessionist forces. Suspending tourist travel permits is just one of those options.
Many are trying to guess what economic card Beijing will play next. However, this may not be the most important question. Considering the recent military exercises of the People’s Liberation Army, Beijing is not just thinking about playing simple economic cards to crack down on Taiwan secessionist forces.
The US in early July approved possible arms sales to Taiwan with an estimated value of $2.2 billion. We advise the US not to meddle in China’s internal affairs at this sensitive moment. Beijing has a complete set of strategies regarding the Taiwan question, and the ban on individual travel is just a small part of the story. Can Taiwan and the US guess what happens next? The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopin[email protected] globaltimes.com.cn