Taipei (AsiaNews/agencies)-For the first time, six Taiwanese nationals have entered the United States without a visa. For Andrew Kao, Director-General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York and de facto Ambassador to Taiwan, what happened is "indicative of the solid relations between Taiwan and the United States". On 3 October last year, Washington included Taiwan in the Visa Waiver Program (Vwp) that allows citizens of 37 countries around the world to stay in the United States for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days, only on their national passport.
This maiden voyage marks a diplomatic victory for Taipei over Beijing. China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan's territory, is not part of the Vwp.
According to Kao, the opening granted by the United States to Taipei will increase the number of Taiwanese tourists to the United States by 400 thousand to 600 thousand every year. Moreover, he adds, it is the "embodiment of Taiwan's ' vital ' diplomacy." Steve Chang, General Manager of China Airlines, note that since 3 October flight bookings have almost doubled.
Although the Republic of China is recognized by only 25 Nations worldwide (among these, the United States, -ed), citizens can now travel without a visa in 129 countries.