Taiwan Warns Against China Travel After Threats to ‘Separatists’

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan has hiked its travel warning for China to the second-highest level, citing Beijing’s decision to expand laws that threaten “separatists” from the island with the death penalty.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which oversees relations with Beijing, said residents of the self-ruled democracy should avoid all non-essential trips to China, Hong Kong, and Macau, in a statement published on its website Thursday.

Authorities said the move was prompted by Beijing’s decision to flesh out the legal definition of what it deems a Taiwan separatist. China now considers Taiwanese people who promote the island’s membership in international organizations and conduct official exchanges with foreign governments as independence seekers.

Recent incidents of Taiwanese people being detained in China were also noted as a factor in raising the alert level to orange.

China published a legal document last week clarifying laws aimed at punishing supporters of independence for Taiwan. Beijing considers the island a breakaway province and President Xi Jinping has vowed to unify it with China someday, by force if necessary.

Taiwan raised its travel alert for China to red during the pandemic, and downgraded it to yellow after Covid controls in the world’s No. 2 economy were lifted. Authorities cited risks posed by China’s anti-espionage legislation, and the security law Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in 2020, as reasons for not lowering it further.

Travel between both sides of the Taiwan Strait has struggled to recover after the pandemic, with only 1.76 million Taiwanese traveling to China last year — a 56% drop compared to 2019.

Fresh tensions are unlikely to boost such exchanges. China has blasted the island’s new president, Lai Ching-te, as a “Taiwan independence worker,” saying his inaugural address last month — during which he said the two sides are not subordinate to each other — sent a “dangerous signal.”

(Update with tourism statistics and details throughout.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.