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China travelers build bridges with West [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2004-10-23 00:00:36 |Display all floors
FONTAINEBLEAU, France (AP) -- After the whirl of rush hour traffic, stops for snapshots and a meal of rice, soup and fatty pork, Chen Guolin finally got to relax in the verdant gardens of Chateau Fontainebleau, where Napoleon luxuriated between military campaigns.

She'd been touched, she said, by the almost accentless "ni hao" -- hello in Chinese -- with which French ground staff welcomed her at Charles de Gaulle airport when her group arrived the previous evening. And she marveled at Fontainebleau's tranquility.

"If this was China, there would be people everywhere," she said.

Above all, her first day ever outside China had taught her a lesson: Just seeing Paris, first stop on a 15-day swing through France and Spain, confirmed to her that her homeland is on the rise.

"I really don't feel as if there's any difference between the outside world and China," said Chen, a construction engineer in a smart navy-blue A-line skirt. "Seeing overseas makes you love your country even more."

Trip by trip, a Chinese tourism revolution is doing as much as diplomacy and billions of dollars of trade to build bridges between China and the West.

Armed with digital cameras and videocams, and still connected to home by their cell phones, Chinese with a pent-up hunger for fresh experiences, cultures and shopping are heading in droves to countries that a few decades back were as inaccessible to most of them as the moon.

Last year, Chinese for the first time overtook Japanese as Asia's biggest travelers, making 20.2 million visits, China's tourism administration says.

Europe is bracing for a Chinese surge following a tourism pact that simplifies visa procedures for Chinese tour groups and allows Chinese travel agents to advertise European destinations.

The impact of the agreement, which went into effect on Sept. 1, promises to be dramatic: France, the world's top tourist destination, expects to attract as many as 1.5 million Chinese next year, from the estimated 300,000 to 400,000 who visited in 2003.

Through travel, Chinese are learning about the world, themselves and their country, and teaching the world a little about China and its march to modernity.

"Apart from the language, I really don't feel like I've left home. The stores are as smart as back home, just more expensive," said Hua Mingwei, a 51-year-old Chinese tourist stocking up on perfume with his wife at the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris.

Their sole gripe: Hotels didn't provide hot drinking water.

"They need to think about catering more to Chinese tastes," said Hua. "We don't drink cold water."

Poverty, history, culture and politics long conspired to delay the advent of mass Chinese tourism, whose effects are now being felt from Paris to Auckland, Las Vegas to Sydney.

As recently as 15 years ago, when cheaper air travel was unlocking the world to Western tourists, the few coming from China were mostly state representatives and people with relatives overseas. For most Chinese, life beyond the Great Wall was glimpsed largely through the prism of television and other media all controlled by a Communist Party long suspicious of the West.

And who could afford foreign travel when telephones, televisions, or even bicycles were luxuries? Getting passports was a bureaucratic obstacle course. The government wasn't keen on travelers squandering precious hard currency overseas and returning - if they returned at all - with dazzling tales of the West's luxuries and freedoms.

No longer
Capitalist reforms and stunning economic growth have brought skiing in Korea, golfing in Nevada, shopping in Tokyo and dining in France within reach of millions of middle-class Chinese.

They still call China "Zhongguo," the Middle Kingdom, center of the world. But as well as cars and IKEA furniture, they want albums of souvenir photos from overseas and are the targets of ads like this one in the Shanghai Morning Post: "Seclusion in a castle, in the forest, in a log cabin. Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg. Eight Days for Five European Countries for under 10,000 yuan!"

That's US$1,210, roughly what Hu Jie likely paid for the Japanese camera with which he merrily shot photos at Fontainebleau. A manager with a Chinese air conditioning firm, he's an experienced traveler, having previously worked in France. He led the group of 22 people that included Chen, the engineer.

The day began with introductions to their bus driver, Andrew. "An-de-lu. An-de-lu," some of the visitors murmured, memorizing his name.

Talk then quickly turned to life in Europe as Paris rolled past the windows. But these were hard customers. Last night's hotel wasn't up to the standards of those in China, said one. The streets are cleaner at home, said another. And the Champs-Elysees, which the French call the world's most beautiful boulevard? Not as wide as the Avenue of Heavenly Peace that scythes through Beijing, they scoffed.

"China's got 5,000 years of history. When you travel overseas, you realize that other countries can't compete," said Song Deliang, on his second trip to Europe.

By 2020, the World Tourism Organization predicts, Chinese will be the world's fourth most prolific travelers, taking 100 million trips, trailing the U.S., Germany and Japan, which is expected to make a tourism comeback after a four-year slump.

That makes Chinese a market tourism officials and hoteliers cannot ignore.

"Their economy, their wealth, their ability and their inclination to travel is very, very strong," Bruce Bommarito, executive director of the Nevada Commission on Tourism, said in a telephone interview. He has spent 18 months learning basic Chinese. "It's very important that we stay at the top of the curve," he said.

At least one Novotel in Paris has introduced Chinese TV and restaurant menus, hot drinking water heaters, a Chinese receptionist and breakfasts of rice porridge and noodles.

Chen and others in her group were irritated that Fontainebleau offered no Chinese-language tour or audio guides to steer them through the sumptuous rooms and history. "It's such a shame. We have come such a long way," said Chen.

But Emaury Lefebure, the chateau's director, says free Chinese-language leaflets will be ready for next summer. And thus again, tourism will have built bridges.

"It's important that cultures mix. In the rest of the world, people have no concept of the Chinese. But we're just like everybody else," said Zhang Jiaping, 73, another engineer in Chen's group. "When you travel and meet people, they understand that."

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Post time 2004-10-23 00:35:16 |Display all floors

yeah, you are right: Chinese are so easily to be touched

by any slice of effort made by people from other nations into understanding them for communication.

Would that also be the evidence that Chinese are open minded in understanding people from different culture, different linguistic background, cherishing the friendship of mankind!!!

It's amazing that French people could say "ni hao" accentlessly, because not all the "Chinese" could do so, yet.

see how abusive those english posters are on CD, in picking the faults about the Chinese "capability" in commanding english, "compare" to theirs even though their english spreaded on CD is not better than that of the low lives of native speakers.

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Post time 2004-10-23 01:41:51 |Display all floors

The very fact happening on the board...

chineseyang -- see how abusive those english posters are on CD, in picking the faults about the Chinese "capability" in commanding english, "compare" to theirs even though their english spreaded on CD is not better than that of the low lives of native speakers.

Can't agree more.

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Post time 2004-10-23 12:43:48 |Display all floors

re:China travelers build bridges with West

According to the reports of some British newspapers,Most British teenagers would like to travel all over the world after graduated from high school but before entering in university.Some British experts of education also suggest teenagers to communicate with the people all over the world in order to establish the confidence between them.And it is also the necessary way to avoid the contradict between different cultures.
The difference in culture and custom should not become the ban to the communication between Chinese people and the West,so we must encourage the youth of China travel to the western countries.
Now,in some big cities of China,more and more students are sent to America,German and France.They are hoped to become the bridges between China and the West in the immediate future.And it would help China become one of the most important parts of the world.
On the other hand,I also hope that more and more foreign visitors would come to China,it will be a real globlization.

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Post time 2004-10-28 13:08:51 |Display all floors

Rise in tourists from China misses Washington state

By SHANNON DININNY
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
Saturday, October 23, 2004

Residents of mainland China with money to spend have begun flocking to Europe following a tourism pact that simplifies visa applications. The migration, however, largely hasn't reached the United States.

Business leaders and government officials contend the United States is missing out on one of the world's biggest tourist markets thanks to a complicated visa application process. In Washington state, tourism officials say they aren't even actively promoting Washington state as a destination in China.

It's a problem that impedes not just tourism, but also business development, critics argue.

Gov. Gary Locke, the nation's first Chinese-American governor, has been a vocal proponent of change, calling the uncertainties and delays built into the U.S. visa application process "unacceptable."

"Our inefficient visa processes are costing American companies billions of dollars every year in lost business. This must change," Locke told the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce during a trade mission in September.



Locke was citing a 2004 white paper on American business in China by the American Chamber of Commerce-People's Republic of China and the American Chamber of Commerce-Shanghai.

"We in Washington state are especially concerned about this issue. We value our trade partnerships with China, and want to expand them," Locke said.

China was Washington's third largest export market in 2003, purchasing goods valued at more than $2.3 billion, according to the governor's office. Primary exports include aircraft and parts, industrial and electrical machinery, paper and wood pulp products and medical instruments.

The Association of Washington Businesses recently met with the U.S. ambassador from the People's Republic of China to discuss trade issues, as well as a group of 50 Chinese business leaders seeking environmental technologies.

"art of our effort relies on those people being able to come over here and buy the technology and take it back," said Don Brunell, the group's president. "We're looking to expedite the issuance of visas. We also understand concerns of homeland security and the need to make sure we're protecting our country. We're hoping to strike a balance."

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United States took steps to strengthen visa requirements for foreigners, to the dismay of some countries. Earlier this year, China tightened its rules on issuing visas to American citizens in retaliation for U.S. fingerprinting of Chinese visa applicants as part of America's global anti-terrorism measures.

The U.S. Department of State, which issues nonimmigrant visas, contends it has invested in staff and computer automation to speed the process. The agency is doing everything it can to welcome foreign visitors for legitimate travel, a release earlier this month said.

"Applicants for a visa must show they're not an intending immigrant. That test has never changed," agency spokesman Steve Pike said. "That requires us to know ... does the person have sufficient ties, whether they're personal, professional, business, financial, that convince the consular office that they're going to go home."

Washington state plans to release a new study next year into the state's top tourist markets. Japan and the United Kingdom currently top the list.

Meanwhile, all hope isn't lost - and all eyes are on Beijing 2008.

China hosts the summer Olympics that year, followed by the winter Olympics two years later in Vancouver, British Columbia, just north of the border.

Businesses and tourism officials can already see dollars signs. The state is looking to offer training venues and services to teams leading up to the 2010 Olympics, but there is still a lot of work to be done in that effort, said Peter McMillan, tourism and film director for Washington state.

First, there's promoting the state in Beijing in 2008.

"It's obviously going to be important for the state of Washington to have that exposure early, to get awareness, lift, into the 2010 Olympics," he said. "The state of Washington has an opportunity to shine and show the world what a diverse state we have in terms of tourist destinations. We always think we're the jewel of the Northwest."

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Post time 2004-10-28 13:14:18 |Display all floors

Hedan, shame on you ...

... for making equivalence between the Chinese language and a bad habit of a few undereducated people in China !

Let us see:

You don't feel strong enough about the killing of tens of thousands of innocent people in Iraq to speak out about it, but every time you see a map of ancient China, you feel strong enough to point out that Taiwan "was not" part of China???

That says a lot about you, headumb!

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Post time 2004-10-29 19:28:16 |Display all floors

For hedan -- 100, 000 innocent iraqis killed in cold blood by your beloved count

Study puts Iraqi toll at 100,000

Friday, October 29, 2004 Posted: 0510 GMT (1310 HKT)

LONDON, England -- Public health experts have estimated that around 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the United States invaded Iraq in March last year.

In a survey published on the Web site of the Lancet medical journal on Friday, experts from the United States and Iraq also said the risk of death for Iraqi civilians was 2.5 times greater after the invasion.

There has been no official figure for the number of Iraqis killed since the conflict began 18 months ago, but some non-government estimates have ranged from 10,000 to 30,000.

The researchers surveyed nearly 1000 Iraqi households in September, asking how many people lived in the home and how many births and deaths there had been since January 2002.

They then compared the death rate among those households during the 15 months before the invasion with the 18 months after it, getting death certificates where they could.

The experts from the United States and Iraq said most of those who died were women and children and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most of the violent deaths.

The study was designed and conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and the Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad.

'More likely to die'
While the researchers said the risk of death was 2.5 times more likely after the invasion, they conceded that the risk was 1.5 times higher if mortality around Falluja was excluded.

Two-thirds of violent deaths recorded in the study were reported in the Sunni triangle city of Falluja.

Even with a 1.5-times increase in deaths since the invasion, the number of deaths would be more than 98,000, although this estimate would be much greater if Falluja data is included, the study showed.

While the major causes of death before the invasion were heart attack, stroke, and chronic illness, the risk of dying from violence after the invasion was 58 times higher than in the period before the war.

Most people died from violence after the invasion, the survey said, with most of the households interviewed saying air strikes from coalition forces were to blame.

While the researchers said the sampling was small, in an editorial alongside the survey, Lancet editor Richard Horton said interviewing more households would have improved the precision of the report, "but at an enormous and unacceptable risk to the team of interviewers."

He added that the study's central observation -- that more civilians have died following air strikes -- is convincing.

"With the admitted benefit of hindsight and from a purely public-health perspective, it is clear that whatever planning did take place was grievously in error," said Horton.

"Democratic imperialism has led to more deaths not fewer. This political and military failure continues to cause scores of casualties among non-combatants. It is a failure that deserves to be a serious subject for research."

'Very, very sorry'
The researchers said the findings raise questions for those responsible for launching a pre-emptive war.

The report was released just days before the U.S. presidential election, and the lead researcher told The Associated Press he wanted it that way.

"I was opposed to the war and I still think that the war was a bad idea, but I think that our science has transcended our perspectives," Les Roberts from Johns Hopkins told AP.

"As an American, I am really, really sorry to be reporting this."

Even though the sample size appears small, this type of survey is considered accurate and acceptable by scientists and was used to calculate war deaths in Kosovo in the late 1990s, AP reported.

An expert on study methods who was not involved with the research, said the approach the scientists took was a reasonable one to investigate the Iraq death toll.

But Richard Peto, who is professor of medical statistics at Oxford University, cautioned AP the researchers may have zoned in on hotspots that might not be representative of the death toll across Iraq.

The researchers called for further confirmation by an independent body such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, or the World Health Organization.

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