Taiwan Fears African Swine Fever Spread; China Curbs Cover-ups

A dead pig found on Kinmen Beach tested positive for African swine fever.
( Central News Agency )

Chinese authorities are cracking down on African swine fever cover-ups on the heels of the discovery of a dead pig on a Taiwanese beach this week that tested positive Thursday for the deadly disease that is spreading throughout China.

Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture said Thursday it would take measures to protect the island’s 11,000 hogs, as well as ban the transport of pork products from Kinmen to the rest of Taiwan for 14 days.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen urged Beijing last month to “not conceal” information about the disease. Unfortunately, many experts believe it is even worse than has been reported.

Tsai raised the issue again in a New Year’s speech after this dead pig, confirmed to have ASF, was found on a beach on Taiwan’s Kinmen island, a half-hour ferry ride from the east coast of China. Shortly after this, another dead pig was found on a nearby island on Friday, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported.

Kinmen lies close to the Chinese province of Fujian. A Taiwan News report said it was not possible to determine whether the dead animal had been raised on the island or had drifted ashore from China. Pigs at the nearest farm to the find were checked and all tested negative, but the review will now expand to include all 68 farms in Kinmen.

Enforcement Increases
China’s animal husbandry and veterinary affairs bureau is stepping up investigation and punishment of illegal activity in the pig industry, said a statement published on the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs website.

Failing to report deaths and privately slaughtering and selling sick or dead pigs would be pursued under criminal law, and compensation of 1,200 yuan ($175) for each pig culled was sufficient incentive for farmers to report the disease, Reuters reported.

Taiwan has recently toughened up its measures against ASF. The maximum fine for bringing in meat products from affected areas was raised to NT$200,000 (US$6,489), with repeat offenders facing a fine of NT$1 million. Despite the heavy fines, inspectors at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport have still found offenders on a daily basis.

Taiwan Fears Worst
The dead pigs found on the Taiwanese islands have stoked fears among Taiwan pork producers that their country’s pigs could soon become infected with the disease.

Although Taiwan’s herd of 5.39 million pigs is small compared to China’s 700 million, pork is still the most popular meat in both places and domestic production in Taiwan reduces its need for imports of this staple food.

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