Taiwan's status not belittled in pandas' delivery: MAC

A file photo of MAC Chairwoman Lai Hsing-yuan. (file photo) Mainland Affairs Council said on Dec. 23 in a statement that Taiwan's sovereign status rem

A file photo of MAC Chairwoman Lai Hsing-yuan. (file photo) Mainland Affairs Council said on Dec. 23 in a statement that Taiwan's sovereign status rem

Taiwan's sovereign status remains intact and was by no means belittled in the delivery of two giant pandas to Taiwan from China, the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Tuesday in a statement.

The council, which coordinates and plans Taiwan's policy toward China, issued the statement after the Secretariat of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) said earlier this week that the transfer of pandas from China to Taiwan was in the category of internal/domestic trade and consequently need not be reported to the organization.

Noting that CITES is a United Nations-affiliated international organization, the MAC said that there is no way the transfer could alter the U.N.'s perception of Taiwan's political status.

As Taiwan is not a CITES signatory, it is not obligated to report to the CITES Secretariat its acceptance of the two pandas, the MAC said.

Nevertheless, it added that Taiwan has consistently followed the strict CITES provisions regarding imports of endangered animal and plant species, including the giant pandas.

In the process, the Bureau of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Economic Affairs first issued an import permit for the pair of pandas offered by China as a gift of goodwill and friendship. With the import permit in hand, the Taipei City Zoo then applied to the relevant Chinese agencies for an export permit. China's endangered species export-import management office then issued export documents for customs declaration.

According to the MAC, the delivery of the pandas followed the mode of a country-to-country transfer. If it was an internal/domestic transfer, no customs declaration would be needed, the MAC added.

After a long wait, the pair of rare animals -- Tuan Tuan (團團) and Yuan Yuan (圓圓) -- finally arrived in Taiwan Tuesday to settle in Taipei Zoo in a further sign of rapidly warming ties between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.