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Foreigners arrested for touting in China

Published on 21/08/2008

21 August 2008

BEIJING — A police crackdown on Olympic ticket touts in Beijing rounded up at least 37 foreigners among 300 suspects over the weekend.

The Beijing News on Wednesday said seven foreign touts were formally arrested, 18 were told to leave China by a fixed deadline and 12 were given warnings. Most of the foreigners detained were travelling in China on tourist visas.

Police also formally arrested 185 of the 239 Chinese touts detained, said the newspaper.

The police began their crackdown last Friday and Saturday after the government responded to media reports of open ticket touting outside many Olympic venues.

According to some Chinese touts, the police are not responsible for arresting ticket touting. Instead, the duty falls on uniformed city wardens, who are government-appointed street security officers without formal powers of arrest.

The official Xinhua news agency said one foreigner was caught selling two 300-yuan (EUR 30) tickets for 1,000 yuan each. The unidentified man bought more than 130 tickets in Italy and had already sold at least 60 tickets in Beijing.

In an earlier report by Xinhua, a Dutch citizen was caught trying to sell 24 tickets for more than 10 times their original value near the Water Cube aquatics centre on Friday.

One New Zealand tourist waiting near the Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium earlier this week said his trick to paying less for ticket is to wait until an hour into competition purchasing it. He managed to snap up an 800-yuan ticket for 500 yuan.

Puzzled by foreign touts
The appearance of foreign touts has apparently puzzled some of the local ones.

"If Britain and Romania are so rich, why do British and Romanian ticket touts come here to do this business?" said a young Chinese tout near the Water Cube.

It’s back to business for touts
Ticket touts continue to operate with apparent impunity near Olympic venues on Wednesday, despite the police crackdown over the weekend.

Touts were walking on streets near the Workers’ Stadium and the Workers’ Gymnasium, which are venues for Olympic football and boxing.

One tout wanted 1,000 yuan for a 150-yuan ticket for Wednesday night’s boxing session.

Dozens of touts, including American and British ones, lined the streets leading to the two venues before the football and boxing matches on Tuesday night.

Touts demanded 2,000 yuan for a ticket to Tuesday’s exciting Argentina-Brazil men’s football semi-final clash, which featured stars such as Brazil’s Ronaldinho and Argentina’s Lionel Messi.

Other touts operating via mobile telephone and the internet wanted 5,000 yuan for football final tickets, said a Chinese buyer. He had secured an Argentina-Brazil ticket for 1,000 yuan several days earlier.

Some touts were asking 7,500 yuan for a ticket to the China-Lithuania men’s basketball quarter-final on Wednesday night.

[dpa / Expatica]