Beijing has indicated that Taiwanese residing on the mainland who plan to return home to celebrate the island’s National Day on October 10 may face consequences.
This is seen in a notice believed to have been issued by the Chinese State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office and the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration. The notice requires immigration officers at major Chinese airports to mark down personal details of Taiwanese citizens traveling home during a 20-day period between mid-September and early October.
The Taipei-based United Daily News also reported last week that Chinese embassies in Southeast Asia had sent warnings to Taiwanese expats that they could be courting trouble if they were spotted heading back to the island for the 107th “Double Ten” National Day celebrations.
Revoking these Taiwan citizens’ mainland entry permits and applying extra red tape to mainland immigration and customs clearance procedures could be possible punitive options, according to the newspaper.
Reports said that Chinese diplomats stationed in Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia and elsewhere recently asked local travel agencies and expat associations to convey a “warm reminder” to the Taiwanese diaspora. The reminder spoke of possible troubles during immigration clearance on their next trip to mainland China, should they choose to shun the warning and go back home “at this sensitive conjuncture”.
It is understood that Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen will address the nation on October 10 and her office has invited expat representatives from mainland China and overseas to attend the celebrations. All eyes will be on her assessment of the cross-strait status quo and her new proposals to beef up Taiwan’s international presence in the face of renewed pressure from Beijing.
A spokesperson from Taiwan’s Overseas Community Affairs Council said Beijing’s coercion of Taiwanese expats had always been “pervasive” over the years but the 6,300 overseas Taiwanese who showed up for last year’s National Day celebrations, the highest in six years, was proof that Beijing’s tactic would never work.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council has decried Beijing’s new scheme to grant new residency permits to Taiwanese living on the mainland, labeling it a “Chinese ploy”.
The cards, each bearing an 18-digit code, look almost identical to the ID cards issued to mainland Chinese citizens and will give Taiwanese better access to medical and social security services, according to Xinhua.
Taiwanese applying for the new residency cards would be doing so at their own peril as mainland authorities could use data collected during the course of the application, including profile photos, fingerprints, home addresses and contact numbers, to keep watch on Taiwanese, warned the Mainland Affairs Council.
The Taiwan Democracy Watch, a civil rights advocacy group, also cautioned that Beijing could force foreign governments and intergovernmental bodies to make it compulsory for Taiwanese to produce the China-issued cards during immigration and customs checks and on other occasions when official identity documents are required.
The group suggested Taiwan revoke the citizenship of those China residency cardholders or enact a separate law to regulate their status.