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Talk of the Day -- Chinese tourists fond of Presidential Office

Talk of the Day -- Chinese tourists fond of Presidential Office

Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan are so enamored with Taiwan's Presidential Office that some of them have become return visitors to the tourist attraction, taking their friends along and acting as tour guides. Allowing mainland Chinese tourists to visit the Presidential Office was a policy initiated by President Ma Ying-jeou, who was first elected in 2008. Since June 2008, a total of 31,311 Chinese tourists have visited the place, according to the office's statistics as of the end of February, 2012. The Presidential Office's popularity among the Chinese visitors has grown since early this year, with more than seven or eight groups, or about 200 people, paying a visit daily. Following are excerpts of a report by United Daily News, a major Taiwanese newspaper, on the issue: The Chinese tourists are curious about almost everything at the Presidential Office, "shooting what they can and taking whatever is allowable." They buy souvenirs at the gift shop and take photos of military police, for example. Ko Chiao-mei, a volunteer who has worked as a tour guide at the site for 12 years, said mainland Chinese tourists account for about one tenth of the visitors to the popular tourist attraction. She noticed that many of the Chinese tourists have visited already, but still "come back with their friends." Many of them have told her that they have a special feeling for Taiwan's democratic achievements, and some have written to the administrative staff regarding their visiting experiences and have made suggestions about how things can be improved for visitors, Ko said. Many of the visitors from China are fans of President Ma, she said, and quite a number of them have told her that it is incredible for ordinary citizens to have a chance to visit the working place of the top leader. Some of the Chinese visitors hope to have an "accidental encounter" with the president and to take a photo with him. "Well," she said, "none of them have had the luck to realize that wish." Ko said most of the Chinese visitors are familiar with the names of Taiwan's previous and current presidents, as they are highly interested in Taiwan's democracy and are particularly curious about the island's electoral system. "They often raise questions regarding how democracy works here," questions that "we volunteers are more than pleased to answer," she added. Among the items visitors are allowed to view are the office desks once used by former presidents Chiang Kai-shek, Chiang Ching-kuo and Yen Chia-kan. "The Chinese tourists like to sit in front of those desks and have their pictures taken, with the Presidential Office facade as background," she said. "They are simply thrilled to have a taste of what it's like to be a president of a republic," she said, adding that one tourist even said that it is the picture that will be boasted about the most. But a visit to the Presidential Office is of course limited. Visitors are allowed access to only the first floor, the northern and southern gardens, and the west gate, and plain-clothed agents patrol the building at all times. How do guides answer security-related questions raised by the Chinese tourists? Ko and other volunteers brush aside such sensitive questions, by saying "No comment." (March 4, 2012) (By S.C. Chang)


Updated : 2021-04-12 03:03 GMT+08:00