Chinese pressure could be behind Uruguay visa decision: MOFA

Taipei, Dec. 11 (CNA) Chinese pressure could be the real reason behind Uruguay's suspension last week of visa-free treatment for Taiwan passport holders, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesperson said Tuesday.

The Uruguayan government included Taiwan passport holders in its visa waiver program for visits of up to 90 days on Oct. 29.

However, on Dec. 4, the South American country withdrew the preferential treatment temporarily, citing the technical issue of an incomplete online e-visa application system but provided no further information, according to MOFA.

Asked if pressure from Beijing could be the real reason behind the decision, Joanne Ou (???), MOFA's deputy spokesperson, said Tuesday the ministry does not rule out the possibility.

"Given the recent close interactions between senior Chinese officials and their Uruguayan counterparts, we do not rule out the possibility (of pressure from Beijing)," she noted.

Ou was referring to a visit by Chinese General Administration of Customs Minister Ni Yuefeng (???) to Uruguay.

Ni visited Uruguay on Dec. 3, where he met with Uruguayan Minister of Foreign Affairs Rodolfo Nin Novoa as the two nations celebrated the 30th anniversary of formal diplomatic ties, according to a press release on the Uruguayan foreign ministry.

Ou reiterated the ministry's call for the South African country to reinstate Taiwan's visa-free status as soon as possible.

She also said Taiwan's passport is one of the world's most convenient with a recently released survey ranking it 28th in the world based on the number of countries it can be used to visit without pre-visa requirements.

Ou was referring to rankings compiled by Canadian financial advisory firm Arton Capital, released on Dec. 4.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channels