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Mainland presents giant pandas to Taiwan
Updated: 2005-05-03 09:15

A senior official announced in Shanghai Tuesday morning that the mainland compatriots have decided to present a pair of giant pandas to Taiwan compatriots as a symbol of peace, unity and friendship.

Chen Yunlin, director of the Taiwan Work Office of Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, made the announcement entrusted by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council.

Mainland presents giant pandas to Taiwan  
A Chinese panda bites on a bamboo inside a breeding centre at Beijing Zoo in Beijing March 28, 2005. [Reuters/file]
He said giant pandas are known as gem of the Chinese nation and are loved by the Chinese and all people in the world alike. "For many years, the mainland compatriots have had the wish to present giant pandas to Taiwan compatriots, and many Taiwan compatriots have repeatedly expressed their expectations to see the cuddly pandas in Taiwan too," he said.

The Taiwan compatriots' desire for giant pandas to settle down on the island has become ever stronger now when the mainland tour of Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) party Chairman Lien Chan and the forthcoming visit by People First Party (PFP) leader James Soong have helped deepen the affection between Chinese compatriots on the two sides of the Straits, said Chen.

"After discussions and coordination with all parties involved and with official ratification by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, I am authorized to announce here the mainland compatriots' decision to present a pair of giant pandas to Taiwan compatriots," he said early on Tuesday in the eastern metropolis.

"We hope the pandas, with their tame nature, air of nobleness and cuddly looks will bring joy and laughter to the Taiwan compatriots, children in particular," he said. "We hope Chairman Lien Chan and his KMT party, Chairman Soong and his PFP and all circles of the Taiwan society will make joint efforts to facilitate acceptance of the donation. And we hope relevant Taiwan departments in charge of the issue will take into consideration the long-time expectations of the Taiwan compatriots and approve the donation."

Giant pandas are among the world's oldest and rarest mammals. Alatest Chinese forestry survey says there are about 1,590 wild giant pandas in the wild and another 160 are kept at worldwide zoos.

Mainland to lift ban on residents' tour to Taiwan

Relevant departments of the Chinese mainland will soon allow mainland residents to tour in Taiwan, said Chen.

Removal of the ban for mainland residents to travel to Taiwan will not just expand people-to-people contacts between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits, but is conducive to boosting Taiwan's tourism, food and beverage and other related industries and will bring concrete benefits to the general public in Taiwan as well, said Chen.

"For reasons known to all, the issue was long pending," he said."The Kuomintang (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) have expressed on many occasions the Taiwan compatriots' desire for mainland residents to travel to Taiwan -- the PFP has come up with specific proposals on this issue."

"Tourism administration and all relevant parties on the mainland welcome organizations from Taiwan's tourism industry to start consultations with us on an earlier date in order to make detailed arrangements accordingly," he said.

Chen said it is the mainland's commitment to the Taiwan compatriots to keep adopting new policy measures to solve issues of the Taiwan compatriots' concern and to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests.

Removal of the travel ban came after Chen's announcement of the mainland's decision to present a pair of giant pandas to the Taiwan compatriots.

Mainland opens market wider to Taiwan's fruits

The Chinese mainland has decided to expand access of Taiwan fruits from 12 to 18 species, and offer zero tariff on at least 10 species of fruits from the island province, according to Chen.

Chen said that the mainland has also made preparations to provide convenience for fruits from Taiwan in terms of customs pass, inspection and quarantine.

"Taiwan's high-quality fruits have high economic value and are a major source of the farmers' income," he said. "But difficultiesin fruits sales caused by weather conditions, overproduction and problems in the distribution process often inflict heavy losses."

The Communist Party of China has reached consensus with the Kuomintang Party and People First Party to facilitate sale of Taiwan fruits to the mainland, he said.

After careful evaluations, he said the mainland side has decided to expand access of Taiwan fruits from 12 to 18 species and to offer zero tariff on more than 10 species of Taiwan fruits.

"The mainland is ready to provide convenience in terms of customs pass, inspection and quarantine for Taiwan fruits to access the mainland market," he said. "We hope relevant Taiwan departments in charge of the issue will give the green-light for Taiwan agricultural organizations to hold consultations with the mainland on issues concerning the place of origin certificate, inspection, quarantine as well as direct transport to improve efficiency and reduce risk."

China's mainland has been actively promoting the sale of Taiwan's farm produce to help alleviate difficulties of Taiwan farmers. Hu Jintao, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has urged efforts to facilitate the sale of Taiwan farm produce on themainland.

The trade of farm produce across the Taiwan Straits has been expanding in recent years, with annual trade hitting 421 million US dollars in 2004. Of this, the mainland took the delivery of 116million dollars worth of farm produce from Taiwan, up 10.4 percentyear-on-year.

Currently, Taiwan's aquatic products, fruits, food stuff and tea have entered the mainland market, where no special restrictions are set against the entry of Taiwan's farm produce.

The biggest obstacle to the sale of Taiwan's farm produce on the mainland is the absence of direct flights. As the Taiwan authorities ban direct cargo and passenger flights across the Straits, the farm produce of Taiwan has to be transferred to the mainland via a third place, resulting in higher cost, longer time of shipment and more risks.

Analysts say the selling price of Taiwan fruits and vegetables on the mainland could be lowered by more than 10 percent if they were shipped directly to the mainland.

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