New Philippine visa-free policy excludes Chinese mainland, Taiwan

By Wang Zhaokun Source:Global Times Published: 2013-7-31 23:43:07

The Philippines is extending its visa-free policy to citizens of 151 countries and regions for up to 30 days starting Wednesday, but the Chinese mainland and Taiwan are excluded.

Analysts said the Philippines made the decision as a snub to the Chinese mainland and Taiwan after suffering from disputes with them, though it is still counting on tourists from the two regions to boost its economy.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said the 30-day stay was extended from 21 days in an effort to boost its tourism industry and facilitate foreign investments.

"Both the Chinese mainland and Taiwan are embroiled in disputes with the country. Its decision to exclude people from the two regions is a retaliatory move, especially, against Taiwan," Zhuang Guotu, dean of the Research School of Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, told the Global Times.

"This is a tit-for-tat response to Taiwan's sanctions and Manila wanted to show they would not give in to pressure," he said.

Taipei sanctioned Manila in May by issuing a red travel alert after the latter failed to make a formal apology over its coastguard's killing of a Taiwanese fisherman, while Beijing has maritime territorial disputes with Manila.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported in May that Manila is likely to miss its goal of welcoming 5.5 million foreign visitors this year if its quarrel with Taipei is not resolved in two months.

Zhuang believed the Philippine move is merely a gesture as they know tourists from the mainland and Taiwan are important.

This has also angered Chinese social media Net users, with many even calling for a boycott on visiting the Philippines.

Some mocked the Philippines' decision as "likening itself to the US."

"I have to think about whether I can come back alive. Do you still remember those Hong Kong tourists killed after being taken hostage in Manila in August 2010?" Weibo user honghongdeqiuye, wrote Wednesday afternoon.

Posted in: Society, Asia-Pacific

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