Panda Cupid experts arrive
China has sent two experts to play Cupid this spring for a pair of young pandas it gave Taiwan in 2008, a zoo official said yesterday. Tuan Tuan (團團) and Yuan Yuan (圓圓) have both reached maturity this year, raising hopes that they will breed. Huang Yen (黃炎) and Zhou Ingming (周應敏), from the Wolong Giant Panda Reserve Centre in Sichuan Province, arrived in Taipei on Sunday to provide technical assistance. “The experts from the mainland are noted for their rich experience in the breeding of pandas,” Taipei Zoo director Jason Yeh (葉傑生) said, adding that there was a 50 percent chance that the pair would mate this year. If they fail to breed naturally, the zoo will consider using artificial insemination, Yeh said. He said the pandas have attracted more than 5 million visitors since their arrival.
HK, Macau arrivals increase
An initiative to simplify entry procedures for Hong Kong and Macau residents, launched on Sept. 1, has had a positive impact, the Mainland Affairs Council said on Sunday. Between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 208,342 people from the two Chinese territories obtained an entry permit online, 105.24 percent more than in the last four months of 2009, council statistics showed. Nearly 700,000 people from Hong Kong and Macau visited Taiwan last year, 10.5 percent more than in 2009, the council said. Noting that as of Jan. 11, Republic of China passport holders were granted visa waivers for 35 European countries, the council urged Hong Kong to grant Taiwanese a similar privilege. Hong Kong is one of the most popular overseas destinations for Taiwanese, the council said, with about 2.5 million visiting the territory each year.
Quakes rock Hualien
A magnitute 4.6 earthquake struck Hualien at 1:55pm yesterday, one of a series of nine quakes that began at 2:10am. Three of the quakes reached a magnitude of 3 or more. No casualties or damage were reported as of press time. The Central Weather Bureau’s Seismology Center said the epicenter of the magnitute 4.6 quake was located 16.5km northeast of Hualien County Hall at a depth of 15.9km. That quake measured magnitude 5 in Taroko Gorge, the center said, and was also felt by residents of Hualien’s Sioulin Township (秀林) and in Nanao Township (南澳), Yilan County, with an intensity of 4, and in Hualien City and Nantou County with an intensity of 3.
THSR helped holiday flow
The increasing use of the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) and other forms of public transportation helped ease peak freeway traffic during the Lunar New Year holiday, the National Freeway Bureau said yesterday. Officials said the third day of the Lunar New Year usually has the heaviest traffic, with family outings reaching a peak while many people start returning to their homes in a bid to beat traffic jams on the final day of the holiday. On Saturday, which was the third day of the lunar year, the THSR transported about 190,000 passengers, 19 percent more than the same day during last year’s Lunar New Year, and an all-time high for its Lunar New Year passenger volume.
Go player honored
Taiwanese Go player Cho U (張栩) was given the title of Oza yesterday at a ceremony in Tokyo after winning three consecutive championships for the second time. The Japan-based Cho, 31, was presented with a certificate, a trophy and ￥14 million (US$163,000) in prize money.