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TOURISTS WELCOME, CHINESE ASSURE AMERICANS

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Chinese officials attempting to rebuild their tourist industry in the wake of the violent crackdown on student protesters in Tiananmen Square are assuring American travel agents that the climate has calmed and foreigners are welcome.

Tourists "have been able to do pretty much as they please since the June 4 incident," Zhenhuan Xi, deputy general manager of China Swan International Tours of Beijing, said in an interview following an address to a gathering of the travel agents.Zhenhuan is the highest level travel industry official to be dispatched to the United States since students and others demanding democratic reforms in China were shot and killed in Beijing and other cities last summer.

Amnesty International estimated that at least 1,000 civilians were killed in Beijing on June 3 and June 4 and at least 300 more were killed in other areas of the country. The Chinese government has estimated the total number at 200.

Zhenhaun, along with three other tourist industry and Chinese hotel executives, scheduled appearances in six California cities this week, teaming with an American travel wholesaler, World Travel Consultants Inc. of Glendale, to woo tourists and assuage travel agents' anxieties.

"I don't think that tourists have had any problems since (the crackdown)," Zhenhaun said through an interpreter.

China estimates that the world's reaction to the crackdown slashed tourism by at least 20 percent, he said.

The biggest dropoff has come from U.S. tourists, Zhenhaun said, although the the numbers began improving in August, when business travel returned to normal.

U.S. travelers are the second-largest group of tourists visiting China after the Japanese, Zhenhaun said.

"I think a lot of people did not come because they felt it would not be safe," he said. "There are still a lot of people who do not understand the situation in China."

Zuehhaun said that even right after the "incident on June 4," tourists were allowed to move about freely. "People who have come to China have found that it is safe," he said.