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Mainland Presents Giant Pandas to Taiwan

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.


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.


"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 the mainland compatriots' decision to present a pair of giant pandas to Taiwan compatriots," he said.


"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."


At the heel of the two cuddly pandas, who are yet to be named, will probably be a flock of travelers from the mainland, following the mainland's impending go-ahead for its residents to travel to Taiwan.


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


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, he said.


"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.


In the meantime he said that the 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.


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


"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."


The trade of farm produce across the Taiwan Straits has been expanding in recent years, with annual trade hitting US$421 million in 2004.  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.


(Xinhua News Agency May 3, 2005)

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