Tue, Jul 21, 2009 - Page 3 News List

China, Taiwan to open tourist offices across the Strait

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH AGENCIES

China and Taiwan are scheduled to establish tourism offices in Taipei and Beijing respectively and may allow government officials to staff the offices, the Tourism Bureau said yesterday.

The Taiwan Strait Tourism Association will set up an office in Beijing and China’s Cross-Straits Tourism Exchange Association will establish an office in Taipei, a bureau official said, adding that the offices could be set up by the end of the year.

The Taiwan Strait Tourism Association is partly funded by the government and is headed by Tourism Bureau Director-General Janice Lai (賴瑟珍). China’s association is led by the National Tourism Administration Director Shao Qiwei (邵琪偉).

The branch offices, once established, will be the first such cross-strait organizations established in either country.

Deputy Director-General of the Tourism Bureau David Hsieh (謝謂君) said that secretaries-general from both associations discussed the matter earlier this month.

“In that discussion, both said they intended to establish branch offices in Taipei and Beijing by the end of December,” Hsieh said.

“The offices will promote cross-strait tourism and deal with tourist disputes and accidents. The two sides may also send government officials to staff the offices,” said Hsieh, adding that the offices would only handle cross-strait tourism affairs and were not being set up for political purposes.

In related news, a survey released by the Global Views monthly showed that most Taiwanese want President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to meet his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), believing a meeting could ease cross-strait hostility.

A telephone poll of 1,005 people by the pan-blue leaning magazine showed that 58 percent of respondents said it was necessary for Ma and Hu to meet, 27 percent said it was unnecessary and 15 percent did not know or had no opinion.

“In view of China’s emergence and Taiwan’s economic woes, most Taiwanese want the government to seize every opportunity, to make as many friends as possible and to ease hostility,” said Charles Kao (高希均), co-founder of the publication. “The ruling and opposition parties have misjudged public opinion. They thought Taiwanese were conservative and afraid of being hurt in cross-strait affairs.”

Kao said that with the exception of sovereignty, which cannot be compromised, the Taiwanese government should take bolder steps in promoting trade, cultural and sports ties with China.

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