TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - In the wake of the African swine fever outbreak in China, Taiwan's agriculture authorities are tightening border checks and raising fines to prevent the transmission of the pig-killing virus through Chinese meat products, which also applies to the meat products from Hong Kong and Macau, said the official.
The amendment to raise the maximum fine for smuggling banned meat products into the country entered into force on Friday, Dec. 14, with four violations reported at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on the first day of its effect, the Central News Agency reports.
The original fines for passengers bringing in the meat products without declaring ranged from NT$3,000 (US$97) to NT$15,000 (US$486), but have now been hiked to between NT$10,000 (US$324) and NT$1 million (US$32,398).
Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) Director-General Feng Hai-tung (馮海東) said that as Hong Kong and Macau are under China's rule, the two cities have to be listed as outbreak areas and whose meat products are not allowed to enter the country.
Taipei Customs under Ministry of Finance said that, on Friday, one Taiwanese passenger returning from China, surnamed Chan (詹), and two other Chinese travelers surnamed Li (李) and Dai (代) were found at the airport carrying Chinese ham products weighing about 1kg, 0.2kg and 0.4 kg, respectively, in their luggage without declaring. Chan, Li and Dai were immediately fined NT$50,000 (US$1,620), NT$30,000 (US$972) and NT$50,000 respectively for violations.
Another Taiwanese passenger, surnamed Lo (羅), was fined NT$50,000 for bringing cured meat products from Hong Kong.
According to the BAPHIQ, the first-time violation for smuggling pork products from countries reporting African swine fever cases within three years will be fined NT$50,000, and the fines against the same passenger will be elevated to NT$500,000 (US$16,200) and NT$1 million for repeated violations.
Since the disease was first detected in China, thousands of pigs have been culled.