Taipei, Dec. 26 (CNA) Taiwan has asked Beijing five times for updates about the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in China, but those requests have fallen on deaf ears, a Taiwanese official said Wednesday.
Li Tui-chih (李退之), deputy head of the Council of Agriculture (COA), said at a press conference that the council has formally asked China five times to provide updates about ASF, but no response has been received.
Li also refuted a remark made by Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光), spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, earlier in the day that the ASF epidemic in China has not yet reached a "massive scale."
The disease has spread to 23 Chinese provinces or regions, Li said, asking "if that is not a massive scale, what is?"
He urged Beijing to provide updates on the status of the ASF outbreaks to Taipei.
"Stop hurting the feelings of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait," Li said.
Li also rejected Ma's remark that after a personnel change in Taiwan's Rural Development Foundation in 2017, the two sides ceased to exchange information about such outbreaks.
Li said Ma's remarks were intended to "confuse public opinion" because the COA's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) has always been the contact window for China to report such outbreaks.
In contrast to China's failure to report its disease outbreaks, Li said Taiwan has always updated China on the latest development of its avian flu and foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks.
At a regular press conference earlier Wednesday, Ma acknowledged that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have an agreement that allows them to report information relating to agricultural products and food safety to each other.
However, Ma argued, Taiwan does not import pork from China, so Beijing is not obliged to report ASF outbreaks to Taipei.
In response, Kuan An-lu (管安露), a spokesperson for Taiwan's semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation, said Ma's remarks misrepresented the cross-strait agreement.
Even though Taiwan does not import pork from China, Beijing should still report ASF outbreaks to Taipei because such outbreaks constitute "safety and health information" --information that should be reported according to the agreement, Kuan said.