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Passengers walk through Beijing Capital International Airport in China on January 1, as China relaxes travel rules. Photo: EPA-EFE

Letters | If Japan isn’t welcoming, Chinese tourists can take business elsewhere

  • Readers discuss the Japanese response to the return of Chinese tourists, and government inaction on Rohingya refugees
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Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, Japan worried about how a decline in Chinese tourist numbers would hurt the economy. Now that China has relaxed travel rules, Japan has erected fences against floods of Chinese tourists, however. Isn’t it strange?

It should hardly be surprising that after preventive measures were lifted on the mainland, there would be big outbreaks of Covid-19. The same thing would have happened in Western nations too, and their death rates could well have exceeded China’s.

Chinese people, including Hongkongers, have long adored Japanese culture and merchandise. But now that Japan seems set on giving Chinese travellers a hard time, instead of rolling out a red carpet, can we not have more dignity? Can’t we go elsewhere to purchase everything we want and enjoy other beautiful scenic spots?

Randy Lee, Ma On Shan

Government inaction on Rohingya boats a shame

We refer to “‘Left to die’: Fates of 5 Rohingya boats across Asia spotlight enduring crisis of stateless Muslim minority” ( January 1).

As long-time allies of the Rohingya, we at Burma Task Force mourn the loss of so many passengers whom surrounding nations ignored last month. Numerous activists, including ourselves, have been pleading with local government offices frantically, providing contact and location information of the stranded boats, but seen so little response.

While there may have been some confusion over the many boats in danger at once, local governments could certainly have saved them. This failure to act requires an independent investigation. The inaction is deeply traumatising to families and communities who are already survivors of genocide.

As we begin a new year, let’s ask if governments are willing to learn lessons from this failure. Or will we see the usual cynical game: victims blamed for seeking freedom, however unwisely trusting their lives to traffickers?

Equally dangerous is rescuers returning Rohingya passengers to Myanmar, where they are persecuted. This goes against morality as well as international norms. Asean must engage with the rightful leaders of Myanmar, who offer hope for an orderly and prosperous future. Instead we see Asian nations continuing to do business with the brutal regime, even supplying weaponry. Is such business as usual wise for the region? Everyone is impacted.

Adem Carroll, UN programmes director, Burma Task Force