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Taiwanese Tourists Denied Entry in Cuba: Is China to Blame?

Daniel Kim Views  

Recently, two cases have been of Taiwanese travelers being denied entry into Cuba. Suspicions have arisen within Taiwan that “China may have exerted pressure.”

Taiwanese media Minsin News reported that Taiwanese travelers attempting to enter Cuba with Taiwanese passports were denied entry and deported, citing reasons such as “China does not recognize Taiwan as a country.”

One Taiwanese traveler from Mexico to Cuba was returned to Mexico after waiting approximately 25 hours at the airport. A Cuban immigration officer said, “Entry with a Taiwanese passport is not allowed. Only with a Chinese passport.” The traveler expressed, “I suffered a loss of around 20,000 Taiwanese dollars. I don’t think I will revisit Cuba shortly.”

The Yen family, Taiwanese expatriates residing in Montreal, Canada, all holding Canadian permanent residency, faced a similar situation. A family of five arrived at Havana Airport in Cuba for a nine-day vacation plan. Still, immigration officers refused entry and confiscated their passports, citing, “China does not recognize Taiwan as a country.” The following day, all five family members were deported to Canada. They waited for over 10 hours before being sent back.

Yen protested loudly, saying, “I have a friend who entered Cuba with a Taiwanese passport last July, so why isn’t it possible now.” However, the Cuban immigration official refused his entry, stating, ” This is a new policy. Taiwan’s relationship with China is not good now .”

The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Taiwanese passports are not restricted to Cuba. They advised travelers to postpone travel to Cuba until further information could be confirmed or to verify entry regulations through the Cuban government website or airlines.

It has been reported that public opinion in Taiwan states, “China’s ‘squeezing Taiwan’ strategy is nothing surprising.”

A representative from a Taiwanese travel agency expressed hope that the misunderstanding that occurred during the Christmas holiday could be resolved. They added that if customers could not travel to Cuba due to this issue, the agency would comply with relevant laws to either refund them or offer alternative products of their choice.

Chinese media Huanqiu Shibao reported that Cuba adhered to the “One China” policy and did not recognize the Taiwanese passport. They added that even Taiwanese netizens expressed dissatisfaction with the Taiwanese authorities, with some believing it’s just to create issues for the upcoming elections. Chinese netizens commented, “Well done. Great job. We praise Cuba,” and expressed similar sentiments.

Meanwhile, since the introduction of the Electronic Customs Declaration (ECD) in Indonesia in November 2022, there has been no option to select “Taiwan” or the “Republic of China” in the nationality field. Travelers must choose “China” or “Other” and manually input their nationality. The recent incident of denied entry to Cuba has sparked controversy, leading to criticism within Taiwan that “all Taiwanese entering Indonesia are being forced to become Chinese.” In response, the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that they have demanded improvements from the Indonesian government.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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