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Taiwanese official criticizes China's move to limit visitors to island

Tainan Mayor William Lai says Beijing should allow Chinese visitors to travel freely to Taiwan. (Photo by Kensaku Ihara)

TAINAN, Taiwan -- China's move to reduce the number of its citizens visiting Taiwan will cost it the trust of the Taiwanese people and hurt bilateral ties, Mayor William Lai of the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan said this week.

The comments by Lai, a rising star within Taiwan's ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, came after a recent sharp decline in mainland Chinese travelers to Taiwan. Government figures showed Chinese tour groups dropped by nearly 40% year-on-year between mid-May and mid-August, and the number of total mainland visitors fell 32% year-over-year in August.

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