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People's Daily Online>>China Politics

Beijing gov't opens offices to tourists (2)

By  Zhang Zhilong (Global Times)

08:54, April 17, 2012

More details will be released on May 19, China's Tourism Day, said Li.

"It's amazing. I didn't know how advanced the system is that operates the subway before I came here," a visitor told Beijing News after visiting the traffic center. Visitor reaction to the tour last week was generally favorable, the report said.

Liu Jinghua, a professor studying political science and government administration with Beijing Normal University, said visiting government institutions means much more than a regular sightseeing trip.

"Government departments are the symbol of power, and their opening to the public means that the government is trying to improve transparency in governance," said Liu, adding that the opening itself carries a very symbolic meaning.

"The result we may see from this 'government tourism' remains unknown, but it is a very skillful arrangement," he said, pointing out that it is a process for gradual opening up of government departments.

Government departments can be toured like a scenic spot, which is also meant to help the public realize power is endowed by them, said Liu.

However, Liu's positive spin is not entirely shared by Wu Yang, a 35-year-old teacher with Renmin University of China. He agreed the government's intentions are good, but had doubts as to whether the effects would be positive. Wu said that he was concerned that it will become a show, which will cost too much money, and doubted that citizens would show much interest.

As a Beijinger, Wu said he had once visited Zhongnanhai, the seat of the Chinese government, with his parents when he was young.

"I can't recall the details, but the beautiful scenery impressed me most as a kid," said Wu.

In 1981, Zhongnanhai was opened to the public for nine years, according to China Military Online.

Government buildings in many countries have been popular tourist attractions, such as the White House in Washington, DC and the Houses of Parliament in London.

In November last year, Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center was opened to the public, according to its website, so that citizens could understand more about the workings of the environment bureau. Both Chinese and foreign citizens can book a tour individually with the bureau, but tours are only in Chinese.

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