TAIPEI, Taiwan – Local tour operators with clients from mainland China are doing their best to avoid sections of Taipei as protesters take to the streets around Ketagalan Boulevard on March 30 in protest against the cross-strait trade-in-service agreement with China and the government’s handling of the situation, reports our Chinese-language sister paper China Times.
The Presidential Office and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall are two of the must-see sites for first-time visitors to Taipei. But tens of thousands of protesters have joined a rally on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office to voice their support for the protesters, mostly students, who have occupied Taiwan’s Legislature to oppose the pact since March 18.
Many tour guides have chosen to stay a safe distance away from the sites, and Chinese tourists can only take pictures of the demonstration from afar.
Chinese visitors are aware of the recent political turmoil in Taiwan, but recent events have yet to influence their interest in visiting the island. “I saw that on TV. Lots of people protesting,” a Chinese tourist told the paper, who added that it did not affect his decision to travel across the strait.
Commenting on the police using force to disperse protesters at the Executive Yuan — whereby over 200 people including students and officers were injured during clashes that involved the use of batons, shields and water cannons, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency — a Chinese tourist said in other democratic countries such as US, France and United Kingdom, the police are even more violent when it comes to cleaning up protest areas. He added that Taiwanese police officers are too soft when it comes to doing their job.
Some tour groups with packages that include a visit to the Presidential Office have decided to modify their trip and will instead visit the government building later in the week.