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Talk of the Day -- How many legal inns in scenic Cingjing Farm?
Central News Agency
2013-12-07 09:18 PM
The Cingjing mountain resort, better known as Cingjing Farm, has long been known as one of Taiwan's most favorite vacation destinations, with its beautiful natural scenery and cool weather. The Golden Horse Awards-winning documentary "Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above" has stirred up concerns, however, about the toll the central Taiwan resort's densely packed inns and guesthouses have taken on the environment and even led to questions about their legality. Responding to increased public environmental awareness spurred by the hit aerial documentary, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) unveiled Thursday a map that identified nearly half of the 498-hectare Cingjing Farm as being at "high-risk" for natural disasters. The ministry also said that only four of the 134 inns in Cingjing are operating legally. The Nantou County government countered on Friday, however, that there are 102 legal lodgings in the mountain resort area, and the official website of the Tourism Bureau said 101 inns and guesthouses in Cingjing have legal licenses while 18 B&Bs do not. The contradictory figures offered by the three different government agencies have created confusion and led the media to focus more closely on the area's development. The following are excerpts from local media coverage of Cingjing Farm-related topics: United Daily News: Many Cingjing residents are descendants of Kuomintang (KMT)-led guerrilla troops evacuated from Burma in 1961. A number of Chinese people fled to the border area between the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan and Myanmar during the Chinese civil war in the late 1940s. Many of them joined a KMT-led anti-communist army corps based in the border area. The guerrilla corps continued its fight against the communist forces after the KMT government moved its seat to Taipei in 1949. The group, however, suffered a severe defeat in 1960 and the KMT government decided to evacuate it to Taiwan in 1961.

The 253-member group that consisted of 77 guerrilla soldiers and their families was later settled in Cingjing in Nantou County.

They formed three settlements -- Bowang, Tingyuan and Shouting.

Among them, the Bowang settlement has been the best preserved, with the Baiyi tribal culture originating in Yunnan dominating the local landscape. Lu Wen-yin, a descendant of the evacuated guerrilla forces who operates a Baiyi-style restaurant in the area, said there has not been a natural disaster in the region over the past 50 years. "The government's abrupt announcement that 64 percent of the land in Cingjing classified as a high- or medium-risk area was confusing and disturbing," Lu said. Yang Tien-hsi, head of a local community development association, said he has lived in the region for 44 years and has never seen mudslides in the neighborhood.

"The MOI should enhance information transparency to avoid creating turmoil," he said. (Dec. 7, 2013) United Evening News: Lin Hsiu-mei, deputy director of the Nantou County government's Tourism Department, said the big gap between its number of legal B&B in Cingjing and the MOI figure resulted from different criteria used to come up with the number. Under the county government's rules, guesthouses that have obtained a business license are considered legal.

The MOI, however, lists a guesthouse as legal only when it also meets strict construction, firefighting and water and soil conservationv regulations and has not added any new structures without legal authorization. An inn that expands its operating scope after obtaining a legal license would still be deemed as illegal under the MOI criteria. Meanwhile, the county government said the MOI used outdated information to identify some parts of Cingjing as high-risk areas. Lin said the data was compiled in 2011, but the situation has changed since then. Premier Jiang Yi-huah said the central and local governments should work together to clarify differences as soon as possible. (Dec. 7, 2013).

(By Sofia Wu)

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