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Taiwan OKs Tours From the Mainland

November 24, 2001|From Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Taiwanese government said Friday that it will ease decades-old curbs on mainland Chinese visiting the island in another goodwill gesture toward political rival Beijing ahead of parliamentary elections next week.

The Executive Yuan, or Cabinet, decided to allow tour groups consisting of mainland Chinese living or studying overseas to visit Taiwan, the island's top China policymaker said. Those in China who are not eligible to travel to Taiwan at present will still be barred under the new system, which starts next year.

"It is a crucial step toward normalizing ties between the two sides of the strait," Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the Cabinet's Mainland Affairs Council, told a news conference. She also said Taiwan will open its doors wider if China reciprocates the island's goodwill.

The move comes after Taipei's easing of restrictions on trade and investment this month in the run-up to the Dec. 1 elections, which could dictate how close and fast the island's economy would be integrated with China's.

A government statement said 1,000 visitors will be allowed daily. Currently, Taiwan allows Chinese to travel to the island to visit relatives, to cover news or for cultural and educational exchanges.

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