Tue, Nov 01, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Police fret about possible influx of spies and criminals

CNA , TAIPEI

Police voiced concerns yesterday about the possible impact on social order and national security of the expected opening of the nation to Chinese tourists in the near future.

The National Police Agency (NPA) remains reserved about the opening, as Taiwan and China are yet to come forth with a set of cooperative mechanisms on crime fighting, ranking NPA officials said.

Because the relevant arrangements are not in place, money laundering, financial fraud and forgery of official documents across the Taiwan Strait continue to be rampant, which will make it hard after the opening to verify the identity of visiting Chinese tourists and prevent infiltration by Chinese intelligence agents and criminals, the officials said.

At present, some 150,000 visitors from China enter Taiwan each year, and a full opening to Chinese tourists would make the issue even more complex and create a greater risk to Taiwan's national security and public order, the officials said.

To minimize the impact, the establishment of a special ad-hoc group composed of immigration, police, intelligence and investigation units is necessary to carry out the mission of safeguarding the country following the opening up to Chinese tourists, they suggested.

For the time being, only Chinese people living abroad or coming from a third country or area are allowed to visit Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Tseng Sheng-hai (曾盛海), secretary-general of the Travel Agent Association of the Republic of China, said yesterday that the nation's tourism industry is not worried about the ability of local hotels and the authorities to handle the expected influx of tourists from China, but that it is deeply concerned about a vicious price war that could erupt in the battle for their business.

As the country is expected to allow as many as 1,000 Chinese tourists to visit per day for a maximum stay of 10 days, only around 10,000 tourists from China would be in Taiwan on any given day, Tseng said.

According to Chu Chung-hung (朱鍾宏), chairman of the Taiwan Scenic Spots Association, there are 22 listed recreational facilities in Taiwan that can accommodate a combined 15 million visitors per year -- a figure that is well above the annual limit set by the government at around 360,000 Chinese tourists.

Although local tour operators are confident of receiving as many as 400,000 tourists from China in line with the government's annual quota, they are nevertheless concerned about a price war that could break out to attract more tourists.

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