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Taiwanese evacuated from Typhoon Jebi only if they agreed they're Chinese - mainland media

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 6/9/2018 Kinling Lo
a group of people standing in front of a crowd © Provided by South China Morning Post Publishers Limited

Taiwanese tourists stranded in Japan by Typhoon Jebi were asked to state whether they identify as Chinese before being allowed emergency help, Chinese state media reported in an apparent attempt to reinforce Beijing’s claim over Taiwan.

Over 3,000 tourists – including around 750 Chinese and 500 Taiwanese – have been stranded since Tuesday in Kansai International Airport in Osaka, where all flights in the coming days have been cancelled after it was forced to close because of flooding.

While Japan has arranged bus and boat evacuations of tourists regardless of nationality, the Chinese embassy has provided buses exclusively for Chinese tourists, according to Chinese state tabloid Global Times on Thursday morning.

The newspaper seized on Chinese tourists’ claims that they told tourists from Taiwan to board buses only if they identified as Chinese. Beijing regards the self-ruled island as a breakaway province to be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Typhoon Jebi leaves a trail of death and destruction in Japan

“A few Taiwanese asked if they could board the bus provided by the Chinese embassy for evacuation,” a Chinese witness in the airport was quoted as saying. “[Chinese people] all said, ‘Sure, if you identify yourself as Chinese, follow your home country.’”

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Taipei and Beijing issue separate passports for their citizens and have separate consular offices, having been ruled by different governments for decades.

Over the past year, Beijing has stepped up pressure on foreign airlines and companies, as well as countries around the world, to refer to Taiwan as part of China.

Another Chinese witness told Chinese state news outlet Guancha.cn: “After asking, some Taiwanese tourists queued for the buses like the Chinese tourists.”

A staff member at the Taiwanese Trade Office in Osaka, Taiwan’s representative organisation in the city, told the South China Morning Post that Taipei has not been providing transport for Taiwanese people.

Typhoon Jebi: death toll rises as speed boats evacuate thousands stranded at Japan’s Kansai airport

“What we can do now is advise them to transit to other airports or railway stations so they can leave as soon as possible,” said the employee, surnamed Maruo.

“But we are not aware that any Taiwanese boarded the Chinese bus.”

At least 11 people are dead and more than 600 others injured following the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan in 25 years. Kansai is the country’s third-largest airport and a major hub for western Japan, which has been particularly badly hit by the storm.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia. For more SCMP stories, please download our mobile app, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

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