China intentionally pulled back on group tourism to Taiwan last year by about 18%, resulting in a squeeze for those in the tour bus and hotel industry. Beijing probably thought the same about its easing off permits for students to study at Taiwan’s 152 tuition-thirsty universities. The number of non-degree students dropped from 34,114 last year to 32,648 now and some reports say enrollment in degree courses is about to fall. These measures, combined with other more obvious pressure moves against Taiwan such as sending an aircraft carrier around the island, have hurt.
Taiwan’s next telltale elections – a slew of local ones – are set for 2018. It’s hard to know now whether voters will show discontent then toward their president. They’ve resented China for decades, so anti-Beijing sentiment now or any other time is unsurprising. “What seems unarguable is that blame for whatever pain people in Taiwan feel as a result of all of these roadblocks imposed by Beijing is importantly being directed toward the mainland,” says Alan Romberg, director of the East Asia program at U.S. think tank The Stimson Center.
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