Taipei, A visitor from China was fined NT$200,000 (US$6,482) after being caught attempting to bring shredded pork muffins into the country at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TTIA) Wednesday, according to Taipei Customs.
The Chinese national, surnamed Shen, arrived at the airport following an 11:50 a.m. flight from Ningbo in east China's Zhejiang province carrying 0.6 kilograms of processed shredded pork muffins, an apple and oranges, Taipei Customs said.
The processed meat products and fruit were discovered by customs officials in Shen's hand luggage, when he failed to make a declaration upon arrival and proceeded directly to the "Nothing to Declare" customs channel, Taipei Customs noted.
Shen received a NT$200,000 fine from the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) for violating the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease, Taipei Customs said.
Taipei Customs personnel said other tourists were fined the same amount a day earlier for trying to bring in pork pies, pork sausages, and duck meat.
According to the BAPHIQ, a total of 54 people were stopped for trying to bring in meat products from Dec. 18-25, of which 13 were fined NT$200,000.
The fines are part of government efforts to prevent African swine fever (ASF) reaching Taiwan at a time when the epidemic is spreading fast in China. Authorities say if ASF were to reach Taiwan, it could devastate the country's pig farming industry.
Premier Lai Ching-te said Wednesday that if ASF were to spread to Taiwan it would severely damage the NT$70-80 billion industry as well as related markets and industries calculated to be worth approximately NT$200 billion.
To that end, Lai asked all county and city governments to establish response centers that in the event of an epidemic can be upgraded to handle the situation.
The premier also asked Taiwan's airports and seaports to step up announcements informing passengers not to bring meat potentially infected with ASF into Taiwan.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel