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Hong Kong residents unhappy after US allows visa-free travel for Taiwanese

Hong Kong business travelers say they are frustrated by a recent decision by the United States to allow visa-free travel for Taiwanese coming to America, the South China Morning Post reported.

"It's disappointing, because we've been asking for it for quite some time, and they still won't give it to us," Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung Ya-chung told the Post last week. "We behave well, never cause trouble and spend handsomely, so why do they give it to Taiwan and not Hong Kong?"

On Oct. 2, Homeland Security announced self-governing Taiwan will join 36 other countries whose nationals may visit the United States without a visa for 90 days, The Associated Press reported. China is not among these countries, but Hong Kong has lobbied for many years to be granted the visa-free status, according to the Post.

A senior State Department official told the AP that including Taiwan in the visa waiver program was consistent with the U.S. commitment to "robust, unofficial relations" with the island.

Richard Vuylsteke, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong told the Post that the chamber had been lobbying the U.S. State and Homeland Security departments for more than five years.  

"All of the reasons Taiwan was approved... Hong Kong is also very strong in," he told the Post. "My private speculation is they don't know how to handle mainland Chinese with [Hong Kong] resident status."

In Taiwan's case, waiving the visa requirements is also viewed as a response to the island lifting import restrictions on U.S. beef, the AP reported, as well as a reaction to President Ma Ying-jeou's easing tensions with China. 

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