Opposition lawmakers seek 'Taiwanese' nicknames for Chinese pandas

Giant pandas Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan arrived their new home Taipei Zoo on Dec. 23. The two began having dinner within half hour of their arrival.

Taipei, Dec. 24 (CNA) A group of opposition legislators invited the public Wednesday to think up some "Taiwanese" nicknames for the pair of giant pandas presented by China, which bear names the lawmakers contend are suggestive of Beijing's efforts to suppress Taiwan's sovereignty.
Submissions and voting for the new names are being accepted on the personal blog of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Twu Shiing-jer, and results of the vote will be announced Dec. 31.
Among the names that have received the most support so far are "Chih-ming, Chun-chiao, " "one China, one Taiwan, and "Wang-yao, Wang-shih." The pandas that arrived at the Taipei Zoo Tuesday are called Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, which together mean "reunion, " a term which implies the unification of Taiwan and China.
The group of lawmakers from the pro-independence DPP, including Twu, Kuan Bi-ling, Chen Ting-fei and Chen Chi-yu, noted that pandas are always a "political tool" of the Chinese communists and asked the public to be aware of what the animals' presence in Taiwan represented.
"The DPP isn't trying to make things difficult for these two pandas. But when Taiwan's people are visiting the pandas (at the zoo), they should not be ignorant of the hidden meaning behind them," Kuan said.
Kuan pointed out that the use of pandas by the Chinese communists as a tool to build rapport with other countries began as early as the late 1950s when a pair of pandas were given to the now-defunct Soviet Union.
Besides giving five pandas to North Korea in the 1960s, Beijing further presented the rare animals to the United States, Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and Spain between 1972 and 1978, she noted.
The export of pandas had been interrupted for more than 20 years when China gave a pair of the animals to Hong Kong in 1999 to celebrate the second anniversary of the handover of the former British colony to China.
Another pair of pandas were presented to Hong Kong in 2007 to mark the 10th anniversary of the handover, Kuan said.
Now, she claimed, the acceptance of the gift by the Kuomintang (KMT) administration is a prelude to Taiwan's unification with China and to the end of the Republic of China.
The two pandas were offered to Taiwan in 2005 after a visit to China by then-KMT Chairman Lien Chan.
The offer, however, was rejected by the Council of Agriculture (COA) under the then DPP administration on the grounds that Taiwan did not have adequate conditions to raise the animals.
The COA approved the Taipei Zoo's application to house the animals in August 2008, three months after the inauguration of President Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT.
(By Y.F. Low)