Sat, Mar 02, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Chinese tourist curfew not law

BAD PRESS Fending off criticism from inside and outside the country, the MAC yesterday said that controls on visiting Chinese are only administrative

By Lin Miao-Jung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Vice Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) yesterday said there is no curfew for Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan, and that requirements that such tourists return to their hotels by 11pm is only "an agreement between travel agents and tour guides."

He added, "If [Chinese tourists] need to visit relatives and friends, they should tell the government in accordance with regulations."

Chen was responding to criticism of the government's treatment of Chinese tourists.

Yesterday saw the arrival of the second group of Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan since such groups were first allowed to enter on Jan. 1 this year. The group consists of Chinese nationals currently living in San Francisco.

It has been reported that prior to their departure, the group complained about Taiwan's strict regulations, including the 11pm curfew, and the regulation that they remain in their tour groups at all times.

Chen said the basic policy is "entering Taiwan in groups, leaving Taiwan in groups, and travelling in accordance with a pre-planned itinerary."

He said the 11pm rule is an "agreement made between the travel agencies and tour guides" for the purposes of managing the groups and to give tour guides rest periods.

The rule is in fact an administrative regulation introduced by the Tourism Bureau in November in a bid to prevent illegal immigration. A breach of the regulation may result in the partial or complete forfeiture by the travel agency responsible for a deposit paid in advance to the Tourism Bureau.

At a news conference yesterday, facing charges that the MAC is not allowing Chinese tourists the freedom of movement to visit their relatives and friends, the deputy director of the MAC's Economics Department James Chou (周慶生) quoted Tourism Bureau (觀光局) regulations stating that during "free activity" periods, the tourists may "go shopping or visit friends without giving notice to the bureau."

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