Tue, Jun 10, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Presidential Office rescinds ban on Chinese visitors

OPEN TO ALL The office was reopened to the public yesterday after it closed following President Ma's inauguration on May 20, and now all are welcome

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Presidential Office reopened to the public yesterday and lifted a ban on visits by Chinese nationals, which included residents of Hong Kong and Macau.

The building had been closed for all visits since the inauguration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on May 20. It closed to Chinese nationals in 2000 when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power.

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said there was a normal number of visitors yesterday, about 200 in total, including 40 to 50 from Hong Kong and Macau and 10 from China.

Visitors wishing to visit the building must register in advance if there are six or more people in a group. Individuals can register on the spot.

Wang dismissed speculation that Chinese nationals must visit in a group that has registered in advance, saying that there was no such regulation and that they could visit the building individually like everybody else.

“We welcome visitors to the Presidential Office, including people from Hong Kong, Macau and China,” he said.

Currently, the building is open for visits from 9am until noon, Monday through Friday. Visitors must complete a security check before 11:30am. Visitors are only allowed to view the exhibition halls and the gift shop on the first floor.

In addition to weekday visits, the building is open to the public from 8am to 4pm on Sundays six times a year. Visitors on these days can visit certain rooms from the first floor to the third.

A staffer at the Presidential Office said that when the building was first opened to the public during Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) presidency, visitors could visit only on Sundays four times a year.

Public visits were expanded to five days a week and six Sundays a year during Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration. Chinese nationals, however, were banned because of cross-strait tensions.

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