U.S. grants visa-free status to Taiwan; Chinese netizens covet it
Taiwan will be included into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which allows Taiwanese passport holders to enter the U.S. for up to 90 days without a previously arranged travel visa. The latest announcement has been heatedly discussed on Chinese social media. One microblogging post, which describes the difference between ‘the dark red passport’ (Chinese) and ‘the dark green one’ (Taiwanese) to be ‘the longest distance ever existing in the world’, has been shared by 28,000 users.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Tuesday in Washington that beginning November 1, Taiwan will be the 37th place – and the first non-sovereignty – in the world to be granted a visa-free status.
The moment the news came out, Chinese netizens started to talk about it on Sina Weibo, an immensely popular China-based microblogging site that incorporates features of both Twitter and Facebook. A net user, who goes by the name “@假装在纽约” (literally ‘Pretending to be in New York’), wrote on Sina Weibo:
“The longest distance in the world exists where I celebrate National Day on October 1 and you celebrate National Day on October 10. The longest distance in the world exists where I hold my dark red passport and go through all kinds of hardships for one visa and you hold your dark green passport and travel to over 120 countries unimpeded.”
He also wrote, “The longest distance exists where we speak the same language but have different countenances, difference types of sadness and joy, and different fates.”
The Weibo post comes with a computer generated image which incorporates the flag of the Republic of China (ROC) into the flag of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Until press time, the post has garnered 28,349 shares and 6,127 comments.
One user commented,“Okay, I do love the Blue Sky, White Sun, and a Wholly Red Earth (flag).” Another wrote, “What world are we living in! Taiwanese can go to the U.S. visa-free! I want to emigrate!”
One created a similar sentence based on the original format, “The longest distance is, in ’49, you mailed me a boat ticket to the island, and I missed it because of having to celebrate the Liberation (meaning that the Communists liberated Chinese people by founding the PRC).”
Similar posts that disparage a Chinese passport in favor of benefits tied to Taiwanese citizenship can be easily found on Sina Weibo. @Chinalaw, an account that often comments on current affairs in China, wrote, “Chinese passport is regarded as one of the rubbish passports in the world, with visa-free access to only fewer than 20 countries. It ranks only higher than the Pakistani and Bangladeshi ones. More important, countries that grant Chinese passport holders visa-free status are not suitable for business travel, vacation or family visiting. They are only suitable for adventure, with either cholera or war.”
The government of the Republic of China, celebrates its National Day on October 10, commemorating an uprising activated on October 10, 1911 that led to the downfall of the imperial Qing Dynasty and the establishment of the new republic.
The ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) fled to Taiwan in 1949 after their defeat in the Chinese civil war to the Communists and designated Taipei as the temporary capital of the Republic of China, hoping to later stage a comeback and seize back the power.
Though six decades later, Taiwan has become a de facto independent state sans formal recognition from the United Nations, Chinese government and its people, as well as older generations of residents in Taiwan with roots in mainland China, still regard Taiwan as a renegade province of China.
In the past decade, with popular discontent with Chinese authorities ever mounting, a considerable percentage of Chinese netizens have expressed nostalgic feelings for the Nationalist rule and envy for Taiwanese people’s lifestyle.