Tue, Jan 10, 2006 - Page 1 News List

You can forget about those pandas, Frank Hsieh says

STAFF WRITER , WITH AP

The government is unlikely to accept the offer of two pandas from China because doing so could undermine the nation's sovereignty, Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said yesterday.

"We cannot compromise our sovereignty," he told reporters at a Taipei business conference.

"The likelihood of the pandas coming to Taiwan is pretty low," he said.

Hsieh said that for pandas to enter the country, China would have to abide by the rules of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and allow Taiwan to sign an agreement as an "importing country" -- something he said was a practical impossibility.

"That means the Chinese government must recognize us as an independent country and obtain our agreement and authorization," he said.

"China could not possibly agree to recognize Taiwan as [an independent] country," Hsieh said.

The Council of Agriculture said last week that it will seek the opinions of conservationists and other experts and decide by March 23 whether or not to approve entry for the pandas.

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