Thu, Dec 25, 2008 - Page 4 News List

PANDA DIPLOMACY: Use of ‘domestic’ by CITES secretariat was wrong: MAC

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said yesterday it was wrong for the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to describe the importation of two giant pandas from China as a “domestic trade.”

CITES Secretary Juan Carlos Vasquez said on Monday that in accordance with UN policy, the transporting of the two pandas to Taiwan would be a matter of “internal or domestic trade” and as such did not need to be reported to CITES.

Lai yesterday said she could not dictate what CITES says about the matter, but that it was not correct to say that the importation of the two animals was domestic.

“Besides, [the pandas] must go through customs. Why would they need to do that if it were a domestic trade?” she said.

Lai said the legal documents concerning the export and import of the animals were based on CITES regulations and international practice.

Precedents had been set by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration when endangered herbs were imported from China.

Asked whether Taiwan would file a complaint with CITES over the matter, Lai said clearing things up should not be a problem. However, Taiwan is not a UN member and it was beyond the country’s power to tell the organization what to do, she said.

Straits Exchange Foundation Deputy Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) on Tuesday said the animals never had anything to do with CITES.

Kao said that during negotiations with China, both sides reached a consensus that they would follow the precedent set by the DPP administration in 2002 and 2003. In other words, the import had to comply with Chinese regulations on the export and import of endangered flora and fauna, he said.

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