Ad hoc group will decide panda issue
Claiming that he has never encountered any pressure on the issue of whether or not to accept a pair of pandas from China, Council of Agriculture Chairman Lee Chin-lung (李金龍) said yesterday it will be decided purely on the merits of "professional evaluations" by an ad hoc group of academics and experts.
Take them or leave them? That is the question for Taiwan ever since China announced January 6 that a pair of giant pandas will be given to Taiwan, described by China as "a goodwill gift" but seen by many as a mere political ploy.
Bird flu alert at 'zero'
Taiwan's avian flu alert level remains at the "zero" state because no infection has been reported so far, a senior health official said yesterday.
Taiwan remains safe for the time being, despite recent outbreaks of avian flu in Turkey, Department of Health Minister Hou Sheng-mau said while explaining the issue during a gathering with legislative caucus members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
Sung Hu-tsung, head of the Bureau of Plant and Animal Health Inspection and Quarantine at the Council of Agriculture, said that Taiwan-exported birds do not have the H5N1 virus and added that apart from Britain, Taiwan also exported birds to France and Italy last year.
Back to normal
All the Taiwan businesses affected by a recent wave of strikes staged by Vietnamese workers demanding pay raises have resumed normal operations, a Ministry of Economic Affairs official said yesterday.
The strikes came to an end after the last three factories established by Taiwanese manufacturers in Vietnam resumed operations Tuesday, the official said, adding that a total of 26 Taiwanese businesses located in the southern provinces of Phu Yen and Tay Ninh, as well as in Ho Chi Minh City, were affected by the incident.
According to the official, no Taiwanese were injured during the strikes staged December 28.
Tree peony show
A planned glamorous tree peony show will play the overture for the Chinese traditional Spring Festival, one of the most important Chinese festivals, at the Taipei Chienkuo Flower Market January 21-27.
The show will also be a display of the harvest of a "mission impossible" carried out by a group of Japanese experts in flower cultivation from Shimane Prefecture which is well-known for its peonies.
The tree peony is known as "the queen of flowers" or "the flower of riches and honor" and symbolizes wealth and distinction in Chinese society.