Taiwan wants Chinese tourists, yuan convertibility: official


TAIPEI — Taiwan’s incoming Kuomintang government wants to attract more mainland tourists and make it easier to convert the Chinese yuan on the island by July, a senior party official said Tuesday.

“We have this goal to work for and it requires talks with the Chinese side to achieve it,” said Chang Jung-kung, the director of the Kuomintang’s mainland affairs division.

Chang declined to comment on reports that the party’s vice chairman, Chiang Pin-kung, also Taiwan’s newly-designated chief negotiator with Beijing, will discuss such issues during an upcoming trip to the mainland.

The visit mainly aimed to thank Taiwanese businessmen based on the mainland for their support of president-elect Ma Ying-jeou, who takes office on May 20.

The Commercial Times reported Tuesday that Chiang will fly to China on April 20 to negotiate issues including expanding yuan convertibility, starting weekend direct flights and bringing in more mainland tourists.

Taiwan currently only allows yuan convertibility on the Kinmen and Matsu islets, a trial scheme in place since 2005.

Ma said Monday that he had chosen Chiang as chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, a quasi-official organisation in charge of dealings with China.

Direct air and sea links between the two rivals were banned when they split in 1949 after a civil war. Limited direct travel was allowed from 2002 between Kinmen and Matsu and selected ports in Fujian province.

Despite the political differences, China replaced the US as Taiwan’s largest export market in November 2002.