Fri, Feb 01, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan News Quick Take

■ POLITICS

"China renews panda offer

China has renewed a politically fraught offer to send a pair of pandas to Taiwan, just weeks ahead of the presidential election. All preparations have been completed and China hopes the animals "could leave soon," said Yang Yi (楊毅), a spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office. China first offered the pandas in 2005 to mark a landmark visit by the leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). China later named them Tuantuan (團團) and Yuanyuan (圓圓) -- words that together mean "reunion" in Chinese. Beijing has repeatedly accused President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) of rejecting the animals for political purposes. China has largely stayed out of the election campaign so far, a reflection of past experience when its intervention was seen to have strengthened the pro-independence vote.

■ POLITICS

Legislature to elect speakers

The seventh legislature will hold elections for the speaker and deputy speaker when it convenes today. Incumbent Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who is seeking re-election on behalf of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), and former KMT caucus whip Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) are expected to prevail. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) announced yesterday it had selected DPP Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) and former chairperson of the Council for Cultural Affairs Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) as its candidates for the speaker and vice speaker seats. DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the caucus would ensure that all its legislators voted for the DPP's candidates.

■ HEALTH

Blood donors wanted

The blood center in Hualien County is calling on the public to donate blood to relieve an imminent blood shortage during the Lunar New Year holiday. Staff members at the center said on Wednesday that despite a blood donation campaign launched early last month, the stockpile of various types of blood is still short of its target by about 1,000 bags. The center now has only 68 bags of Type A blood left, although 150 bags are needed to maintain a safe level to meet its needs for seven days. The center should also have 380 bags of Type O blood, but the stockpile has dropped to 145 bags, while Type AB blood, usually maintained at 60 bags, is down to only 13 bags. With the Lunar New Year holiday only one week away, the management of the center is worried that frequent donors, such as servicemen and college students, will go back to their hometowns.

■ HEALTH

Chopsticks to be tested

The Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection will test samples of disposable chopstick imports starting today to ensure they do not contain excessive traces of potentially harmful chemicals, officials said yesterday. The measure is being taken at the request of the Department of Health. The chemicals to be tested for include sulfur dioxide, hydrogen peroxide and biphenyl, which are reportedly used by manufacturers to bleach, disinfect and preserve the utensils, the official said. Noting that most disposable chopsticks sold in Taiwan are imported from China, Vietnam or Indonesia, they said any imports that are found to contain excessive residues of the substances will be destroyed or returned to the country of origin. They also advised consumers shopping for disposable chopsticks to select products that are clearly labeled with an expiry date and the name, address and telephone number of the manufacturer.

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