At a press conference on Wednesday, a Chinese mainland official said that China is in the process of putting together its gift to Taiwan: a pair of giant pandas.
The China Wildlife Conservation Association has been tasked with discussing the pandas' move to Taiwan with Taiwanese officials. The pandas will be acquired from the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
"We will select a pair of giant pandas aged between one and a half to four years that were bred in the center," said Cao Qingyao, spokesman for the State Forestry Administration.
"We hope the two sides will start talks as soon as possible," he said.
In a TVBS opinion poll, nearly 70 percent of Taiwan people said they would accept the pandas. Several cities, including Taipei and Kaohsiung, are competing to provide the pandas with a new home.
The sale of Taiwan farm produce to the mainland was also discussed during the press conference.
"Technical issues involved in the matter could be discussed by trade organizations of both sides first and then confirmed by the authorities," suggested Tang Yi, deputy director of the economic bureau of the Taiwan Affairs Office under the State Council.
"This will help Taiwan farmers benefit from trade with the mainland at the earliest possible time," Tang added.
The mainland has made the necessary preparations to import 15 kinds of fruit from Taiwan without charging tariffs. It has also put in place customs clearance, product inspection and quarantine procedures.
The mainland will also establish special business zones in Heilongjiang, Shandong, Sichuan and Fujian provinces for Taiwan farmers. This is to facilitate business with the mainland.
"We sincerely hope that our efforts will help solve the difficulties that Taiwan farmers have been facing regarding sales," Tang said.
A few days ago, the mainland announced it was ready to start talks with Taiwan on opening a tourist route to the island.
(Xinhua News Agency June 2, 2005)