The number of Taiwanese nationals displaying aberrant behavior overseas has increased this year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday, noting that 53 such cases had been reported in 2016 as of the end of October.
Roger Luo (???), deputy director-general of the ministry's Bureau of Consular Affairs, said its overseas offices handled between one to two dozen cases involving Taiwanese showing aberrant behavior between 2010 and 2015.
The number rose as high as 33 in 2014, and Taiwanese nationals were detained or even sent for treatment in some of those cases, Luo said.
But in the first 10 months of this year, the number of cases has risen even higher to 53, said Luo, who described the increase as a matter of concern.
In some cases, the individuals were suffering from depression, Luo said, but in other cases, the individuals were aggressive, or just rambled or yelled curse words at shopping malls.
The cases were spread over several countries but occurred mostly in Japan, a favorite tourism destination of Taiwanese.
He said that after overseas offices were notified of the cases involving Taiwanese nationals, office staffers checked the individuals' identity and contacted their family members.
Because the individuals were usually not allowed to board a plane, the offices would ask family members to travel to the country and accompany their relatives home after a period of treatment, Luo said.
He urged families of individuals with depression or other disorders not to let those family members travel overseas alone.
If they do travel alone, they are more likely to have trouble coping with a strange environment with different languages and customs, increasing the chances of emotional outbursts, the official said.
In terms of the assistance most often requested from overseas missions, Luo said it was primarily focused on replacing lost or stolen passports, with 2,485 such cases reported this year as of the end of October.
A total of 164 countries now provide Republic of China (Taiwan) passport holders the convenience of visa-free, landing visa or digital visa treatment, making ROC passports more desirable, and forged ROC passports were even reported in Europe at the end of last year, Luo said.
He also cautioned Taiwanese nationals against engaging in activities overseas that do not conform to their stated purpose of entry.
In such cases, they could be refused entry or be deported and barred from re-entry for several years, and serious offenders could be fined or detained, he warned.
Luo cited the example of Taiwanese nationals who travel overseas for their wedding pictures.
The couples may enjoy visa-free treatment, Luo said, but photographers accompanying them to do the photo shoot will not receive the same treatment.
People partaking in commercial activities must apply for a working visa rather than relying on visa-free treatment, Luo said, citing moves by Indonesian immigration officials last year to crack down on five or six teams of Taiwanese photographers in Bali and ordering them to leave immediately.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel