Taiwan pig farmers clash with police in rally against US pork imports

Taiwanese pig farmers demonstrate against government plans to import US pigs into Taiwan on May 31, 2016.
Taiwanese pig farmers demonstrate against government plans to import US pigs into Taiwan on May 31, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (AFP) - Hundreds of Taiwanese pig farmers clashed with the police outside Parliament on Tuesday (May 31), protesting against any move to allow the import of United States pork containing an additive that they say is dangerous.

The farmers chanted slogans like "No imports of poisoned pork!" and "American port imports, Xiao-ying sells out Taiwan" in the first major rally against the new government of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

"Xiao-ying" is the nickname of Ms Tsai Ing-wen, who was sworn in as the island's first female president on May 20.

The angry protesters pushed hard against rows of police officers armed with riot shields outside parliament.

Inside the chamber, Premier Lin Chuan was unable to deliver his first policy report since taking office because of a filibuster by legislators from the opposition Kuomintang party - using a life-size pig effigy presented by the protesters.

The protest came after Mr Tsao Chi-hung suggested before taking office as agriculture minister that the DPP government could lift the longstanding ban on imports of American pork containing traces of a feed additive called ractopamine.

Under the current policy, imports of US pork must be free of the drug.

The United States has long demanded that the ban be lifted if Taiwan is to be part of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

Ractopamine is used to promote leanness in animals raised for meat.

The ingredient is banned by Taiwan, China and the European Union due to human health risk concerns but allowed by 26 countries, including the US, Canada and Brazil.