The number of Chinese nationals entering Taiwan has dropped dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, with no Chinese arriving as tourists, government statistics showed.
Only about 13,000 Chinese entered Taiwan last year amid strict border control measures to prevent the virus spreading, compared with more than 2.68 million in 2019.
Chinese nationals must apply for a visa before entering Taiwan. They may enter the nation for social exchanges, professional exchanges, business exchanges, medical exchanges or tourism, according to the Act on Permission for Entrance of People of the Mainland Area into the Taiwan Area (大陸地區人民進入台灣地區許可辦法).
Photo: CNA
The number of Chinese nationals who visited Taiwan for social exchanges dropped from 66,717 in 2019 to 1,484 last year. Of those, 153 visited relatives, 1,284 reunited with their families and 47 attended funerals or transported ashes.
The number of Chinese who visited Taiwan for professional exchanges fell from 90,994 in 2019 to 73 last year.
Thirteen of those traveled to conduct religion-related research and studies, including several Tibetan Buddhist monks who were prosecuted in China and came to Taiwan to attend events under special permission by the government, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The others were 25 airline staff deployed in Taiwan, 15 reporters, nine investment and management personnel, four organization staff, four people with ad hoc permissions, two who helped train a national sports team and one who arrived for short-term exchanges.
Chinese nationals who entered Taiwan for business exchanges mostly visited to deliver speeches, undertake business studies or training, attend events or provide services as relocated staff in multinational enterprises.
A total of 888 Chinese visited Taiwan for these purposes last year, compared with about 10,000 people annually before the pandemic.
To balance disease prevention and economic development, the Central Epidemic Command Center on March 7 allowed business travelers from China to enter Taiwan to sign contracts or assume new positions.
While more than 41,000 Chinese people visited Taiwan in 2019 for medical exchanges, only 110 such visitors came last year: 56 who attended a doctor’s appointment and 54 who accompanied patients.
Due to COVID-19 border controls and Beijing’s suspension on Aug. 1, 2019, of a program that allowed individual tourists from 47 Chinese cities to travel to Taiwan, no Chinese tourists arrived in Taiwan last year, compared with 1,903,705 in 2019.
The government has been controlling the flow of people since February 2020 to prevent the spread of the virus, a person familiar with immigrant affairs said, adding that government agencies would continue to gather information about the COVID-19 outbreak in China, which can serve as a reference for the center to adjust its disease prevention policies.
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