Wed, Mar 06, 2002 - Page 4 News List

MAC says no curfew for Chinese tourists

FREE TO ROAM The government says it has not imposed a nighttime roll call on visitors from China, it merely requires tour guides to report on the whereabouts of their clients

CNA , TAIPEI

The government has not imposed a curfew on Chinese tourists, a senior Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official said yesterday.

"We have neither demanded a nighttime roll call nor imposed a curfew on mainland Chinese visitors," stressed MAC Vice Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) at a breakfast meeting with members of the opposition PFP legislative caucus.

During the meeting, PFP law-makers expressed doubts about the government's wisdom in requiring Chinese tourists to end their daily activities by 11pm.

They said the decision has drawn complaints and criticism from Chinese visitors.

In response, Chen said reports about the existence of a curfew for Chinese tourists are not correct. "What the MAC has demanded is that tour guides must report the whereabouts or status of all mainland tour group members at a specified time each night," Chen explained.

Moreover, Chen said Chinese tourists can visit their relatives or friends during their stay so long as their tour guides are kept informed of their whereabouts.

Chen further said the requirement that tour guides report Chinese visitors' activities and whereabouts is mainly aimed at establishing an emergency contact mechanism.

To sum up, Chen said, Chinese tourists can freely engage in sightseeing and shopping or visit their relatives and friends so long as their tour guides are fully aware of their activities.

As a goodwill gesture to China, Taiwan began from Jan. 1 to allow Chinese citizens with permanent foreign residency and Chinese students studying abroad to make pleasure trips, as long as they travel in a group at all times.

Two such groups -- one composed of elderly China passport holders residing in Japan and one made up of Chinese citizens in the US or Canada -- have visited Taiwan so far.

Asked when the government would open the door for ordinary Chinese residents to make pleasure trips, Chen said the MAC has yet to map out a timetable for new opening measure. "We have a sense of the time, but do not have a timetable yet," he added.

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