Fri, Jan 06, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan standing up to China on panda imports

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

Taiwan's stated procedures for reviewing an application for panda importation from China will not change to suit authorities in that country, a Taiwanese official said yesterday.

Xinhua reported on Wednesday that China's State Forestry Administration (SFA) would unveil its plan to donate a pair of pandas to Taiwan at a press conference held by the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) today.

"The winning couple beat out fierce competition from nine other candidates as they interacted well during their trial marriage," SFA spokesman Cao Qingyao (曹清堯) was quoted as saying.

In response, Lee Tao-sheng (李桃生), deputy director-general of Taiwan's Forestry Bureau charged with reviewing the application, said: "China is not allowed to import pandas to Taiwan without our government's permission."

"The applications filed by the Taipei Zoo and Leofoo Village [to accept the pandas] have been under discussion since last November, and a final decision will be made by March 23," Lee said yesterday, adding that several hearings will be held before then.

TAO Director Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) announced last May that China would present a pair of giant pandas to Taiwan as a symbol of peace, unity and friendship, following former Nationalist Chinese Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) visit to China.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) regards the move as a tactical one and insists that any importation must conform to international regulations.

"We welcome the importation of pandas, provided that it conforms to international regulations and Taiwan's laws," the MAC said in a press release.

The government's position on panda importation is informed by the dictates of nature conservation, the MAC said.

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