Oct 22, 2009

Taiwan: Taiwan Group Says China Trip Cancelled over Kadeer Film

Active ImageA Taiwanese tourism delegation said Wednesday China had told it to cancel a promotional trip, amid continued anger over the screening on the island of a biopic of exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer.


Below is an article published by Agence France Presse:


About 60 tourism operators from three southern Taiwan cities, including Kaohsiung where the film has been showing, called off a planned visit this week to the eastern Chinese cities of Hangzhou and Ningbo, they said.

"We have to postpone the trip because the other side informed us it's inconvenient for them. We have to wait until the political atmosphere improves," said Tseng Fu-hsing, head of the Kaohsiung Tourism Association.

Kaohsiung hotels have seen a drop in turnover of about 30 percent, with the Kadeer biopic row coming on top of Chinese ire over a recent visit by the Dalai Lama to the city and surrounding areas, according to Tseng.

The biopic was initially removed from a film festival after the local tourism sector said it was bad for business but Kaohsiung officials put it back on the programme after the island's government banned Kadeer from visiting.

When refusing to issue Kadeer a visa, the island's Interior Minister cited alleged links between her World Uighur Congress and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which is listed by the United States as a terrorist group.

She flatly rejected any link.

Kadeer again expressed her indignation over the ban during an interview with a Taiwanese newspaper published on Wednesday.

"If I were ever to visit Taiwan, I would have wanted to tell (President) Ma Ying-jeou that 'you should work for Taiwanese people and not listen to China's lies'," she told the Liberty Times in Tokyo.

US-based Kadeer, branded a "criminal" in Beijing for ethnic unrest in her native Xinjiang region in July, was in Japan for a visit that China strongly protested.

"I always thought Taiwan was a democratic country but I am only half sure now. I think Taiwan's leader is undemocratic. The Chinese communists came up with the terrorist claim and Ma was convinced," she said.

Ties with China have improved markedly since Beijing-friendly Ma took office last year but were strained following the Dalai Lama's visit.