Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Republic of China Granted Visa-Free Treatment from EU

Republic of China Granted Visa-Free Treatment from EU
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 11, 2011

Beginning today, Republic of China passport holders on Taiwan may gain entry to the 35 nations of the European Union without a visa. They may stay up to 90 days. This development means that the public on Taiwan has suddenly gained visa-free entry to 97 countries. This means that the public now has free access to most of the countries they want to visit.

We will soon be celebrating the Republic of China centennial. That Republic of China citizens now enjoy visa free status in 100 countries, makes the approaching centennial even more meaningful. First, the value of the Republic of China has been reaffirmed. The Republic of China is no longer a member of the United Nations. Only 20 or so countries maintain diplomatic relations with Taipei. Nevertheless, nearly 100 countries worldwide recognize Republic of China passports. They recognize the citizens holding these passports, This is tantamount to recognition of the Republic of China. By contrast, Beijing has diplomatic relations with over 170 countries. Yet only 20 countries have granted People's Republic of China passport holders visa-free treatment. The comparative status of the two passports could not be any clearer.

Secondly, this symbolizes international trust in the character of our citizens. These nations subject candidates to careful evaluation before granting visa-free entry status. They evaluate the benefits of economic relations, trade, and tourism. They consider whether an opening may bring incidental risks. In other words, preferential visa treatment is not necessarily the result of diplomatic wrangling. It is often the result of credibility gained by a nation's citizens over long years. ROC citizens from Taiwan have engaged in international trade, overseas travel, and volunteer work for many decades. During their travels, they increased their own knowledge. They simultaneously subjected themselves to public evaluation by the international community. According to the EU announcement, it believes that Republic of China citizens from Taiwan pose no risk of illegal immigration, or any threat to public safety in the EU. Therefore it agreed to remove Taiwan from the restricted list. This was not merely the result of Ma administration negotiations. It was also the result of positive impressions left by millions of Republic of China citizens on the rest of the world.

Thirdly, it proves that the Ma administration's strategy to promote peace is working. The cross-Strait ice is melting. This has reduced costly and futile diplomatic struggles in the international arena. This has also promoted mutually-beneficial bilateral economic relations, trade, and tourism. This has simultaneously reduced cross-Strait confrontation. and is consistent with the international community's desrie for peace. This was a major factor in the EU's granting of visa-free treatment. Five years ago, Tokyo attempted to grant Taipei visa-free treatment. The move was blocked by powerful opposition from Beijing. This time, when the EU moved to grant visa-free treatment to Taipei, Beijing, speaking through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said it had "No objection." Because Beijing demonstrated goodwill, a good thing came to pass. As we can see, the path of peace can often make obstacles disappear.

Similarly, the Taipei American Chamber of Commerce recently released its economic survey. Eighty percent of the respondents were optimistic about Taiwan's economy for the next five years, Ninety percent said ECFA was having a positive impact on Taiwan's economy. Wei Shi-min, president of AmCham, went so far as to say that ECFA had "put Taiwan back on the world map." Many multinational companies are rethinking Taiwan's status among "liang an san di" (Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Mainland). Wei said that ECFA had "put Taiwan back on the world map," He said the EU had "opened its doors." In fact, the opening was mutual. On the one hand, Taipei is no longer sealing itself behind its own walls. On the other hand, the world is welcoming the public on Taiwan with open arms.

This inevitably reminds us of the Chen Shui-bian era, and its ear-shattering slogans, calling for Taiwan to "stand up and march forth." On the surface, it was asserting our national sovereignty. In fact, the regime's "Rectification of Names" movement was mere show, staged for the benefit of a single individual and a single political party. The same is true of the regime's periodic "head of state diplomacy" trips. These were staged to satisfy the president, who was eager to put on a show of personal diplomacy. Taipei paid a heavy price in lost international breathing space and suffocating domestic tension. His infamous "lost voyage" was especially lamentable. Chen Shui-bian even tried to butt heads with Washington and embarrass the United States. Chen Shui-bian once quipped that "Taiwan [sic] is an abnormal country." His "head of state diplomacy" merely reinforced that perception. It failed to win the ROC any genuine dignity.

Today, nearly a hundred countries worldwide have opened their borders to Republic of China citizens. This was an honor achieved by a normal government and its citizens. Lest we forget, when people open their doors to us, it means we must open our doors to them. We hope other countries will follow suit and open their doors as well. We hope to promote peaceful exchange and goodwill. This is the only way to ensure mutual understanding in our modern world.

Travel abroad! Become free, enterprising, and bold travelers. Cross a hundred borders. Experience the world. Learn from different ethnic groups, and carry a message from the Republic of China to the ends of the earth.

2011.01.11 02:53 am









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