Chinese children aged 2-6 to be allowed to return to Taiwan

Parents of mainland Chinese children demonstrate in front of the Control Yuan to call for the government to allow their children to return (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Chinese children aged 2-6 who hold Taiwan residence permits will be allowed to return to the country, starting Thursday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday.

The decision to allow the reentry of Chinese children in that age group was made after weighing humanitarian concerns against Taiwan’s epidemic control measures, the CECC said at a press briefing.

With effect from midnight Wednesday, the Taiwan government will accept applications for the return of Chinese nationals in the 2-6 age group, once they hold a Taiwan residence permit, will be accompanied by at least one parent, and can remain in home quarantine for 14 days, the CECC said.

The new policy followed Taiwan’s green light last month for the return of Chinese children under the age of 2 with residence permits.

In a statement released Wednesday, the CECC said it is still difficult for the government to balance its COVID-19 control efforts and humanitarian issues.

“Not everyone will be satisfied with every decision,” the CECC said in the statement, asking for the understanding of the general public.

It said any decision to lift the entry ban on young Chinese nationals in other age groups will depend on the COVID-19 situation in mainland China and the success of Taiwan’s current efforts to ease the entry restrictions.

Taiwan on Feb. 6 imposed a ban on the entry of Chinese nationals, as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which emerged in Wuhan Province in China late last year and has since spread to more than 180 countries worldwide.

The ban included Chinese step-children of Taiwanese citizens and those born to a Taiwanese and Chinese couple but do not have a Taiwan passport.

Some 400-500 minors in those two categories have been stranded in China since February, according to a shelf-help association comprising the parents of such children.