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Active management is the solution to flap over pandas

Active management is the solution to flap over pandas

The panda is a rare and precious animal which has become an icon for cuteness and a symbol both of the movement to protect endangered animals and of the land of its origin, namely China.

Quite innocently, the pandas have become a conscious tool of the external policy of the Chinese Communist Party-ruled PRC, which dispenses these endangered animals as gifts to governments or parties which it is courting.

In the past year, they have become an instrument in the campaign led by the cross-strait alliance of the CCP and the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party against Taiwan's elected Democratic Progressive Party government.

Last May, PRC State Chairman and CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao decided to "give" two pandas to then KMT Chairman Lien Chan during their meeting in Beijing for transfer to Taiwan.

After a highly publicized evaluation process, the choice of two pandas was announced last Friday by the PRC's Taiwan Affairs Office.

Naturally, Beijing is counting on the undeniable fact that most Taiwanese residents, especially children, are eager to see pandas for the first time in a Taiwan zoo and thus boost affinity with "Chinese culture." For its part, the KMT aims to gain an image boost and political advantage in its campaign to win the upcoming March 2008 presidential elections.

Naturally, the DPP government has been reluctant to jump into this obvious political snare.

President Chen Shui-bian himself has explicitly said the pandas were being used as tools of Beijing's "united front" tactics to undermine "Taiwan consciousness" and sow internal division.

The Mainland Affairs Council has noted that the pandas cannot be imported without due administrative process and prior consultations between the two governments, without which the hapless pandas will likely be returned to China on the same carrier upon which they may arrive.

Not surprisingly, politicians in the KMT and its pan-blue allied People First Party mock the DPP government for being afraid of pandas and claim that it is only trying to sabotage cross-strait peace with unnecessary administrative barriers.

KMT and PFP lawmakers have threatened to pass a legislative resolution or even a referendum to force the Executive Yuan to allow entry to the pandas. Not surprisingly, pan-blue politicians have not chided Beijing for having not first discussed the matter with the Taiwan government.

The question facing the DPP government is clearly how to defuse the issue. Simply refusing to consider allowing the two pandas to enter Taiwan could be seen as churlish and is thus the mistake that the PRC authorities, and, quite likely, the KMT and PFP are truly hoping Chen and the DPP government will make.

It should be clear that most Taiwan residents will not be inclined to boycott the arrival or display of pandas or refuse to see these rare animals simply because they come from China.

Instead of saying "no," the question is really how to say "yes" in a way that does not turn the pandas into political "Trojan horses." Ironically, an answer may lie in the principle announced by President Chen in his New Year's Day message, namely, "proactive management, effective opening."

In other words, in order to make the "opening" of Taiwan's door to pandas "effective," the Taiwan government has a definite and essential role in "proactively managing" the required process and procedures to ensure the protection of the fundamental interests of Taiwan society and the pandas themselves.

The highest and most important criterion is that the process meet the strict standards of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Pandas are listed in the CITES Appendix I as being among animals threatened with extinction.

CITES generally prohibits commercial international trade in specimens of these species, except in exceptional circumstances such as for scientific research.

Upholding the principle of abiding by established global environmental and conservationist norms should be a value for Taiwan's democratically elected "green" government and will be widely respected by our citizens.

Indeed, Taiwanese wildlife conservation groups have already objected to the transfer on the grounds that pandas are an endangered species subject to special protection and should not be abused as political "gifts."

In order to ensure compliance with CITES as well as respect Taiwan's laws, a second fundamental condition is that the process for the exchange be subject to official or at least officially authorized consultation between the PRC and Taiwan governments and take place according to Taiwan's customs and quarantine laws.

Mutual respect and parity between the PRC and Taiwan governments is also a requirement if the pandas are truly coming as a gesture of "good will" and "peace" and not as a means to denigrate our status as a sovereign state.

Obviously, Beijing and the KMT hope to consider the transfer of pandas to Taiwan as a "domestic" transfer within "one China" to avoid the rigorous process and documentation required by CITES.

Naturally, part of their common motivation is also to demonstrate in action that Taiwan is not a sovereign state either in name or substance and to undermine the credibility of our elected government.

However, any refusal by Beijing or the KMT to accept the principle of putting respect of the CITES framework first will put on display to the world and to Taiwan society the common contempt of the CCP and pan-blue camp for the norms of international society and their willingness to risk the lives of these endangered animals for purely political motives.

If the KMT and PFP want to ram a resolution through the Legislative Yuan that would violate these norms, they should expect to pay a political price for such uncivilized and inhumane behavior.

We suggest that the best way for the DPP government to defuse the "panda" issue is to send clear messages to our people and the world that pandas are welcome to our shores if the transfer meets the CITES wildlife conservation regulatory framework to ensure the safety of the pandas and abides by administrative and legal processes negotiated through government to government authorized consultations.

Active management is the solution to flap over pandas The panda is a rare and precious animal which has become an icon for cuteness and a symbol both of the movement to protect endangered animals and of the land of its origin, namely China.

Quite innocently, the pandas have become a conscious tool of the external policy of the Chinese Communist Party-ruled PRC, which dispenses these endangered animals as gifts to governments or parties which it is courting.

In the past year, they have become an instrument in the campaign led by the cross-strait alliance of the CCP and the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party against Taiwan's elected Democratic Progressive Party government.

Last May, PRC State Chairman and CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao decided to "give" two pandas to then KMT Chairman Lien Chan during their meeting in Beijing for transfer to Taiwan.

After a highly publicized evaluation process, the choice of two pandas was announced last Friday by the PRC's Taiwan Affairs Office. Naturally, Beijing is counting on the undeniable fact that most Taiwanese residents, especially children, are eager to see pandas for the first time in a Taiwan zoo and thus boost affinity with "Chinese culture." For its part, the KMT aims to gain an image boost and political advantage in its campaign to win the upcoming March 2008 presidential elections.

Naturally, the DPP government has been reluctant to jump into this obvious political snare.

President Chen Shui-bian himself has explicitly said the pandas were being used as tools of Beijing's "united front" tactics to undermine "Taiwan consciousness" and sow internal division.

The Mainland Affairs Council has noted that the pandas cannot be imported without due administrative process and prior consultations between the two governments, without which the hapless pandas will likely be returned to China on the same carrier upon which they may arrive.

Not surprisingly, politicians in the KMT and its pan-blue allied People First Party mock the DPP government for being afraid of pandas and claim that it is only trying to sabotage cross-strait peace with unnecessary administrative barriers.

KMT and PFP lawmakers have threatened to pass a legislative resolution or even a referendum to force the Executive Yuan to allow entry to the pandas.

Not surprisingly, pan-blue politicians have not chided Beijing for having not first discussed the matter with the Taiwan government.

The question facing the DPP government is clearly how to defuse the issue. Simply refusing to consider allowing the two pandas to enter Taiwan could be seen as churlish and is thus the mistake that the PRC authorities, and, quite likely, the KMT and PFP are truly hoping Chen and the DPP government will make.

It should be clear that most Taiwan residents will not be inclined to boycott the arrival or display of pandas or refuse to see these rare animals simply because they come from China.

Instead of saying "no," the question is really how to say "yes" in a way that does not turn the pandas into political "Trojan horses." Ironically, an answer may lie in the principle announced by President Chen in his New Year's Day message, namely, "proactive management, effective opening."

In other words, in order to make the "opening" of Taiwan's door to pandas "effective," the Taiwan government has a definite and essential role in "proactively managing" the required process and procedures to ensure the protection of the fundamental interests of Taiwan society and the pandas themselves.

The highest and most important criterion is that the process meet the strict standards of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Pandas are listed in the CITES Appendix I as being among animals threatened with extinction. CITES generally prohibits commercial international trade in specimens of these species, except in exceptional circumstances such as for scientific research.

Upholding the principle of abiding by established global environmental and conservationist norms should be a value for Taiwan's democratically elected "green" government and will be widely respected by our citizens.

Indeed, Taiwanese wildlife conservation groups have already objected to the transfer on the grounds that pandas are an endangered species subject to special protection and should not be abused as political "gifts." In order to ensure compliance with CITES as well as respect Taiwan's laws, a second fundamental condition is that the process for the exchange be subject to official or at least officially authorized consultation between the PRC and Taiwan governments and take place according to Taiwan's customs and quarantine laws.

Mutual respect and parity between the PRC and Taiwan governments is also a requirement if the pandas are truly coming as a gesture of "good will" and "peace" and not as a means to denigrate our status as a sovereign state. Obviously, Beijing and the KMT hope to consider the transfer of pandas to Taiwan as a "domestic" transfer within "one China" to avoid the rigorous process and documentation required by CITES.

Naturally, part of their common motivation is also to demonstrate in action that Taiwan is not a sovereign state either in name or substance and to undermine the credibility of our elected government.

However, any refusal by Beijing or the KMT to accept the principle of putting respect of the CITES framework first will put on display to the world and to Taiwan society the common contempt of the CCP and pan-blue camp for the norms of international society and their willingness to risk the lives of these endangered animals for purely political motives.

If the KMT and PFP want to ram a resolution through the Legislative Yuan that would violate these norms, they should expect to pay a political price for such uncivilized and inhumane behavior.

We suggest that the best way for the DPP government to defuse the "panda" issue is to send clear messages to our people and the world that pandas are welcome to our shores if the transfer meets the CITES wildlife conservation regulatory framework to ensure the safety of the pandas and abides by administrative and legal processes negotiated through government to government authorized consultations.


Updated : 2021-03-03 04:50 GMT+08:00