Taiwan to Consider Premier Wen’s Wish to Visit After Retirement

Taiwan (TWCPIYOY)’s government will weigh political factors before permitting a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to the island after he retires as cross-strait relations are at their warmest in over six decades.

“We welcome all Chinese visitors as long as they meet regulations,” Liu Te-shun, deputy minister at the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council said today in an e-mail. “For individuals with special status, the government will take into consideration overall cross-strait relations and the political situation.”

Wen yesterday told reporters in Beijing at the close of the annual meeting of the nation’s legislature he is willing to visit Taiwan as a tourist after his retirement next year. Wen’s remarks echoed comments made in 2009 when he said, “Even if I can no longer walk, I will crawl to get to Taiwan.”

Cross-strait ties improved after President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May 2008 and focused on economic links, abandoning his predecessor’s pro-independence stance. The two sides have signed 16 trade and economic agreement since then.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang, or Nationalists, fled to the island after being defeated by Mao Zedong’s Communists in 1949.

Taiwan last June allowed individual travelers from the mainland for the first time in more than six decades. As many as 500 tourists from China can visit each day, pushing arrivals from the mainland to 1.78 million last year from 1.63 million in 2010. That same year China overtook Japan as the island’s largest source of tourists.

Taiwan’s Taiex (TWSE) Tourist Index, which tracks businesses including Formosa International Hotels Corp. (2707), has advanced 17 percent this year, while the benchmark Taiex index has added 15 percent.

To contact the reporters on this story: Janet Ong in Taipei at jong3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net

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