China to halt individual Taiwan tourism permits for 47 mainland cities

A tourist from China takes a selfie in front of a Taiwanese flag, in Taipei May 5, 2016. ― Reuters pic
A tourist from China takes a selfie in front of a Taiwanese flag, in Taipei May 5, 2016. ― Reuters pic

BEIJING, July 31 ― China will stop issuing individual travel permits for Taiwan to people in 47 mainland cities from August 1, its culture and tourism ministry said today, citing the state of ties with the self-ruled island, but gave no details.

People from the mainland need permission to travel to what Beijing regards as a renegade province. Only travellers from 47 cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen, were allowed to visit Taiwan independently.

The ban on independent travel came amid a rebound in mainland tourists to Taiwan, who numbered 1.67 million in the first half, up 28 per cent from a year earlier, official data shows.

China's military held exercises this week in waters near Taiwan, following a warning last week that it was ready for war if there was any move towards independence for the island.

Beijing, which has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control, also accused the United States of undermining global stability and denounced its arms sales to Taiwan. The United States is Taiwan's main arms supplier.

In recent years, China has stepped up military drills around Taiwan, including regularly flying what Beijing calls “island encirclement” exercises and sending warships into surrounding waters.

Last year, 2.69 million mainland tourists visited the island, a drop of 1 per cent from a year earlier and a decline of 35 per cent from the peak in 2015, data from Taiwan's Tourism Bureau shows. ― Reuters

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