In the first four months of this year, Taiwan welcomed 530,000 Chinese tourists, an almost 100 percent increase from the same period last year, according to the Commonwealth monthly. In the first quarter of the year, 340,000 Chinese tourists visited Taiwan, surpassing the number of Japanese tourists (270,000) for the first time. At this rate, there will be one Chinese visitor for every three tourists from elsewhere.
On May 4, Taiwan opened its first tourist representative office in Beijing, and three days later China followed suit by opening a tourist office in Taipei. This was the first time since the division in 1949 that Taiwan and China set up a regular tourism institution on the other side, marking a new milestone in the development of cross-strait relations.”
So far, Chinese visitors have been thrilled by Taiwan and have been keen to share their impressions of the island.
In the Want Daily, Meng Fanjia, a Chinese man with a Taiwanese wife, recalled his first impressions of visiting the Temples of Confucius in Taipei and Tainan. “It was really amazing to see two groups of elementary school students on a field trip, learning about Confucius’ teachings at the temples. The Confucian Temple in Beijing is quiet and deserted. However, the temples in Taiwan are not just tourist attractions or places to worship the ancient great teacher, but are also classrooms to pass on Confucian teachings to the next generation …there are at least two cases where I have witnessed Taiwan’s education and the passing on of traditional culture.”
According to Taiwanese tour guide Li Chien-chen, Taipei’s Presidential Office and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall are among the most popular spots for Chinese tourists. Talking to the Taipei-based China Times, he said that Chinese visitors like to have their pictures taken in front of the Presidential Office, which is just like Beijing’s Zhongnanhai – headquarters of China’s leaders. Li often joked with his clients that “President Ma Ying-jeou is working in the fifth floor. Do you see him waving at you? I called him just now, but he is busy and can’t meet you in person.”
Another observation in the Want Daily was by Zeng Qiqi, a woman from Zhejiang province, China, who said, “in Taiwan, I hear them talking in standard Mandarin. There is no communication problem even in remote areas. Our 60-year-old driver, who is originally from Guangdong province, speaks without any Cantonese accent. After all, there have been decades of separation across the Taiwan Strait. However, even speaking the same language, the people of China and Taiwan use different expressions for modern objects like laser, rapid mass transit, lunch box, information technology, digital camera, and mobile phones, etc.”
In the same paper Chinese tourist Tang Jin said that “the Taiwanese have a better quality education and are civilized. They talk quietly, even in public places such as in stations and restaurants, while the Chinese always talk loudly and shout at each other.”
According to Taiwan's Bureau of Tourism, more than 1.2 million Chinese tourists have visited the island since 2009. Many of them grew up hearing about Taiwan, so the visit allows them to finally see Taiwan for themselves. This was the case for an elderly woman in a wheelchair. She came from Beijing so she could see Sun Moon Lake and Mountain Ali, which she had studied in elementary school. She could even sing the Taiwanese popular folk song “The Girl from Mount Ali.”
Zhang Yuping, originally from Sichuan province, China, has a Taiwanese husband. The couple has a one-year-old son. In speaking to NOWNews, she said that the Taiwan television soap dramas are more appealing. She watches them daily and finds the style of programming very different on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese programs are more conservative with many restrictions, while those in Taiwan are more diverse and lively. This is true for political talk shows too, which are open and bold, very different from those in China, Zhang said.
Gao Xingjian, the first Chinese person to win a Nobel laureate, told the Central News Agency that each time he visits Taiwan, he sees something new. Although he now lives in France, Gao considers Taiwan to be a treasure in the Chinese world, something dynamic and rare.
- The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco represents the Government Information Office (GIO), Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan). GIO maintains nine Press Divisions in the United States, including the San Francisco office. The Press Divisions are in charge of promoting Taiwan's public relations and cultural exchanges. This blog is updated by the Press Division, TECO in San Francisco.
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