China reassures Taiwan its tourists will behave


BEIJING – China sought to reassure Taiwan on Monday that its first tour groups to the island will behave well, and told tourists to be good ambassadors following a warming of ties between the two often bitter rivals.

The first batch of around 800 Chinese will visit Taiwan at the end of the week, following a landmark deal signed earlier this month by Beijing and Taipei in the wake of the election of the more China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou as Taiwan president.

With increasing incomes on the back of an economic boom, Chinese tourists have flocked to travel the globe. While their spending power has been welcomed, it has been accompanied in places by complaints of bad behaviour, such as spitting.

Some Taiwanese have expressed fears Chinese tourists will be too noisy, cut in lines or push their political views.

Zhu Shanzhong, spokesman for China’s National Tourism Administration, told a news conference in Beijing that government campaigns against this kind of bad behaviour had been working, and that Taiwanese should not worry.

“Over the past few years, following the rise in living standards of mainland Chinese residents, the people’s cultural quality has also continued to rise,” Zhu said.

“Recently we have run campaigns on being a cultured tourist, and have widely publicised it to tourists,” he added.

The administration has already published rules for Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan, warning them against gambling, drugs, pornography and acitivies which may “harm cross-strait relations”, though it did not elaborate on the last point.

They were also warned to respect local laws and customs, as well as “comport themselves with dignity, dress and speak appropriately”.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island amid civil war in 1949. China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Though the two sides share a common culture and language, Taiwan is now free-wheeling democracy, in contrast to China, where the Communist Party maintains a tight grip on political power and brooks little dissent.