By LM — In a recent move, Taiwan published a list of countries that are excluded from their Free-Visa Program. The citizens of these countries will now require a formal visa to enter. Singapore is among the list of visa-required countries.
Is it Politically Motivated?
Residents of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the U.K., the U.S., the Schengen States, and most of the European countries are eligible for Visa-Free entry. Many of these countries are those that supported Taiwan in the recent Taiwan Straits Crisis.
The countries banned from Visa-Free Entry include Chile, Dominican Republic, Israel, Japan, Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, the Philippines, and Russia. These are countries that have been a little more conservative about their stance with regard to Taiwan’s status.
The Taiwanese authorities are claiming that the suspension policy is because of COVID. However, this explanation does not make any logical sense. Singapore has about 1-2k cases a day, while the USA has a 7-day average of 53k cases daily. The USA is also a lot more relaxed with their COVID rules compared to Singapore. After all, they removed their mask mandate a lot earlier, yet they get to visit Taiwan visa-free.
Taiwan also supposedly announced that they are easing their COVID rules. So how could such a decision be because they are worried about COVID? Why does it look like Taiwan is trying to take a political dig at those countries that don’t offer them “enough” support?
Will the decision affect Singapore-Taiwan Relations?
The authorities have yet to come up with an official response to Taiwan’s new rules. However, Singaporeans are starting to find cracks in the bilateral relations between the two states.
Singapore does not vehemently support or criticize Taiwan’s issue but tries to maintain a balanced approach. Taiwan is one of the most visited and celebrated tourist destinations for Singaporeans. It is no wonder that Singaporeans are taking this decision personally.
Just to be clear, the above discussion is solely based on my personal observations and assumptions. No one other than Taiwan’s lawmakers will know what their actual motives are. Nonetheless, the political coincidences are rather too convenient to ignore.