On 12 June, the Caribbean island-nations of St Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia celebrated a new milestone in their growing rapport with the Republic of China (Taiwan), as the Asian nation announced it would thereafter afford their citizens visa-free travel for a period of 30 days.
To take advantage of the new visa-free regime, citizens of St Kitts and Nevis and of Saint Lucia must have an ordinary passport that is neither expired nor due to expire in the coming six months, a return ticket or a ticket for a third country with a valid visa for that country, and a clean criminal record.
Both St Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia provide Taiwanese nationals with visa-free travel rights to their idyllic Caribbean islands, with the former allowing travel for a period of no more than three months, and the latter doing so for a period not to exceed six weeks.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country’s decision to open its borders was in line with the principle of reciprocity, as it rewarded St Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia for their own openness. It also noted that visa-free travel would make plain the closeness that exists between Taiwan and its diplomatic allies.
The ‘One-China Policy’
When the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949, it left behind the People’s Republic of China, commonly known as ‘China,’ and the Republic of China, known as ‘Taiwan.’ Today, the two entities both lay claim to mainland China, and require other nations to choose between establishing diplomatic ties with China or Taiwan, but not both. This is known as the ‘One-China Policy.’
In response to the One-China Policy, many countries established relations with the People’s Republic of China, a prominent player in the international arena. Others, however, chose to set relations with Taiwan, Asia’s fifth largest economy.
The St Kitts and Nevis Ministry of Foreign Affairs established bilateral relations with Taiwan in 1983. Since then, financial support has been flowing from Taiwan to the Federation, which in turn supported its diplomatic goals on an international scale. Saint Lucia reignited bilateral relations with Taiwan in 2007, after a 10-year hiatus in which the island had looked to the People’s Republic of China for support.