Taiwan: U.S. visa waiver talks on course

Hsieh Li-kung, director-general of Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency (NIA), said on Monday that negotiations on securing U.S. visa waiver approval for Taiwanese passport holders were proceeding at a rapid pace. Hsieh, currently on a short trip to Washington D.C. conveyed that Ministry of Foreign Affairs is playing the leading role in the visa waiver talks.

Hsieh said the two sides had reached a high degree of consensus, and he hoped the U.S. could come to a decision soon in areas such as anti-terrorism cooperation, anti-human trafficking capabilities and documentation verification capabilities.

Meanwhile, Hsieh was also asked whether Taiwan was ready to handle the potential problem of Chinese independent tourists overstaying their visas once they are allowed into Taiwan starting at the end of the month. Hsieh replied that the rate of Chinese tourists overstaying their visas and disappearing has been lower than that of other countries since Taiwan opened its doors wider to Chinese visitors three years ago. During that time, however, the vast majority of Chinese nationals have been part of tightly structured tours, and will only be able to visit Taiwan on their own rather than as part of a tour group when the free independent traveler program begins in late June, increasing the potential for problems.

Hsieh hoped measures could be taken to lower runaway risks, suggesting, for instance, that officials of the two sides carefully examine visitors’ identities .