Blossom fans break into Chinese prison grounds

A Chinese couple with a peach blossom tree Image copyright AFP
Image caption Peach blossom is considered auspicious in China, symbolising growth and prosperity

A Chinese prison compound has been attracting hordes of visitors keen to see the site's blossoming trees in full bloom - with some scaling walls in order to get in, it's reported.

Members of the public had previously been allowed onto the site, in the southern city of Guilin, to wander among a huge grove of peach trees planted in an area housing jail staff. Guards say in past years they've only seen a trickle of visitors, but this year's spectacular display means thousands have turned up, forcing prison authorities to limit access to people visiting inmates or staff, the local Nanguo Zaobao newspaper reports.

The rest of the camera-wielding crowds are being reminded via a sign at the entrance that the prison compound isn't a tourist attraction - but that hasn't put everyone off. Some committed blossom-seekers have been photographed climbing over the perimeter fence to get inside. Others have apparently been trying to negotiate with police by offering to buy entrance tickets, which don't exist.

The picturesque setting of the prison has surprised some people commenting on the Sina Weibo microblogging site, with one asking: "Are the guilty all gardening experts?" Some feel access should be unrestricted to the public. "This really is so beautiful, we should let everyone enjoy it," writes another user.

Others worry that the site's walls seem rather easy to scale, but one man has an alternative suggestion for anyone desperate to see the blossom before it ends for another year: "If you want to go, it's this simple: commit a small crime," he says.

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