Following an awkward incident last year in which he failed to recognize the face of a prominent Chinese political figure, Council of Mainland Affairs Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) seems to have learned from past mistakes and was more prepared when he was recently quizzed by a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator about fish.
During a legislative session in October last year, DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) questioned Wang’s knowledge of Chinese affairs by asking him to identify pictures of the nine members on the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee.
Wang only recognized two of the nine men, including Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), but failed to identify the faces of Jia Qinglin (賈慶林), chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and others.
The incident has turned Wang into “easy prey” for opposition lawmakers, some of who are always eager to quiz him.
However, Wang appeared to be better prepared when DPP Legislator Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) asked him what a “chukuo fish” (鮢過魚) was at a recent legislative session. Wang quickly and correctly answered “groupers.”
It turned out that Wang has been paying visits to rural areas across the country — including villages in Greater Taichung and Taoyuan County — at weekends since he took up his portfolio in September last year to “learn about the condition of the people.”
Wang said his knowledge of groupers was acquired during his recent visit to grouper breeders in Greater Kaohsiung’s Yongan District (永安), who taught him about the fish.
Wang said he made the visit after reading a news report on China’s latest technical development on grouper breeding, which allowed the species to survive China’s winter weather and therefore nullified the competitive edges of Taiwan-bred groupers.
“A grouper cultivator [in Yongan] told me that as groupers are vulnerable to the cold and would not survive temperatures of below 11°C, China-based breeders normally have to clear out their stocks of the fish before winter, contributing to a drop in the fish’s price,” Wang said.
However, the downward trend in prices was usually only temporary and would return to normal after January, Wang added.
Nevertheless, Taiwan-bred groupers sill enjoyed a competitive market, Wang said, citing the higher breeding costs for Chinese grouper cultivators due to their farming technique.
Hainan Province in China would make an ideal alternative location for Chinese breeders to cultivate groupers, but they would then have to pay for shipping the fish to coastal areas in Southeast Asia, Wang said.
Wang said that whether his routine visits would “help him out more in legislative sessions” was a secondary concern, as his main purpose was to have more direct contact with the public.