Travel ban just one of many op­tions in­volv­ing Tai­wan

Global Times US Edition - - BIZCOMMENT - By Hu Wei­jia

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

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