President Tsai Slowly Extends Legs to Southeast Asia

Taiwan extends visa-free entry for Philippines, Thailand, and Brunei until July 2019.

By Joon Kim

TAIPEI-A visa-free entry program for three South East Asia countries would be extended to two weeks, after government agency officials met for two days to deliberate foreign visitor measures, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Thursday.

The program would be valid to travelers from Brunei, Thailand, and the Philippines for about one year, starting from Aug. 1, 2018, to the end of July 2019. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also provided clear guidelines for those willing to apply to this year’s entry program, including a half-year passport and visa validity.

The extension was added following a one-year visa-free policy trial initiated to Thailand and Brunei in June 2017. Another was given to Filipinos in Nov. 2017.

Both extensions were made to “relax” current visa measures for the “New Southbound Policy”, a Taiwanese federal agency dedicated to lease economic independence from China, and to lengthen its diplomatic presence across countries affiliated with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and those in South Asia and the Pacific.

The former program has continued to draw in visitors enough to satisfy tourist measures “for tourism and business purposes, and to increase people-to-people exchanges,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated.

If successful, the visa-free entry program could drive in greater leeway next year.

Although President Tsai gave rhetorical support to the policy since she sworn into office in May 2016, a program to promote the policy was given approval by the Executive Yuan a few months later, with little control over its growth.

“Though it is still [in its] early days, to some extent,” media editor Prashanth Parameswaran wrote in The Diplomat on Wednesday, the New Southbound Policy appears to have “begun to see some advances in translating from rhetoric to reality.”

Statistics were shown, observed Mr. Parameswaran, to reach or to even overwhelm several governmental foci. Positive creases were also seen in recent trade figures.