BEIJING – China announced on Wednesday that it would stop issuing individual tourist permits to its citizens from mainland cities for visiting Taiwan due to the current state of ties with Taipei.
The measure, announced in a short statement published by the ministry of culture and tourism, comes into effect from Thursday.
It affects people from 47 mainland Chinese cities which had been included in the pilot program of issuing tourist permits to visit Taiwan.
The decision was made “in view of the current cross-Strait relations,” according to the statement, quoted by state news agency Xinhua.
China considers Taiwan a renegade province and people from mainland need special permits to visit the self-ruled island region.
However, the government notification does not refer to other type of visits to the island, or Taiwanese citizens visiting mainland China.
Ties between Beijing and Taipei have steadily deteriorated since Taiwanese President Tsai-ing Wen assumed office in 2016.
Tsai backs total independence for the island, which clashes with the “One-China policy” which essentially means that there is only one sovereign state under the name China.
Taiwan is officially referred to as Republic of China while China’s official name is the People’s Republic of China.
In January, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Taiwan “must and will be reunified” with China, and did not rule out the use of force to meet this objective.
Chinese authorities have offered to extend the “one country, two systems” principle, which is in effect in Hong Kong and Macau, to Taiwan.
This would mean Taiwan merging with the Republic of China with a certain level of autonomy for a stipulated period of time.
Tsai has rejected the offer and sought international support against Chinese aggression.
The Taiwanese president won the primaries of her Democratic Progressive Party, guaranteeing support for her reelection bid in the January 2020 presidential elections.
But she faces an electoral battle with Han Kyo-yu, the charismatic mayor of the southern city of Kaohsiung and candidate of the pro-China Kuomintang, the main opposition party.