Sat, Mar 25, 2006 - Page 2 News List

China must respect Taiwan as `state' to send pandas: COA

CNA , TAIPEI

Whether Taiwan should accept a pair of giant pandas that China has offered as so-called "gifts" hinges on whether China will respect Taiwan as a sovereign state, the vice chairman of the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday.

Lee Chien-chuan (李健全) said that Taiwan would accept the pandas only if China considers Taiwan as a state in the panda export process, in accordance with Article 10 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Article 10 of the CITES stipulates that: "Where export or re-export is to, or import is from, a State not a Party to the present Convention, comparable documentation issued by the competent authorities in that State which substantially conforms with the requirements of the present Convention for permits and certificates may be accepted in lieu thereof by any Party."

Lee made the remarks during a meeting at the legislative caucus of the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), where TSU legislative whip Liao Pen-yan (廖本煙) asked him about the COA's stance on the issue, since President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has made it clear that Taiwan does not welcome the gift and has said that the pandas would be happier in their natural habitat.

Beijing offered Taiwan the pandas last May when then Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) made a trip to China. Late last year, Chinese authorities said that two pandas would be sent to Taiwan as gifts in June this year.

Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮)responded to the Chinese announcement by pointing out that China cannot send its giant pandas across the Taiwan Strait without the consent of Taiwan's government.

Also attending the meeting, TSU Legislator Yin Ling-ying (尹伶瑛) asked Lee whether the Republic of China government "has teeth" on the fact that many of Taiwan's agricultural technologies and patent rights have been excessively infringed upon by Chinese traders or farmers.

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