Taiwan offers deer, Goat in Exchange for giant Pandas
Echange de cadeaux entre Taiwan et la Chine
Monday 25 January 2010
Two giant pandas have arrived in Taiwan from China, a gift from Beijing to a self-governing island it considers part of Chinese territory.
Together their names (Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan) mean reunion, underscoring hopes that their arrival in Taiwan will spur unity between the two sides.
But the gesture is not welcomed by everyone in Taiwan.
The pandas were first offered three years ago, but were rejected by the president at the time.
That decision was reversed after Taiwan’s nationalists - the Kuomintang - won the presidency in May.
Since then, diplomatic and economic links have improved. Last week daily passenger flights, new shipping routes and postal links between the two sides were established for the first time in six decades.
The Taipei city zoo will donate a sika deer, a critically endangered species, and a Formosan serow, a small but agile mountain goat that’s also seldom seen anymore in Taiwan.
A 20-strong team of animal experts had been in the region for 10 days to prepare for the bears’ relocation - and they took special steamed corn buns, fresh bamboo and even motion sickness pills for the pandas for their trip.
On arrival, they will be quarantined for a month before being taken to their new glass and rock enclosure in Taipei zoo, where they are expected to attract about 30,000 visitors a day.
Despite the publicity surrounding China’s gesture, some in Taiwan caution that its significance should not be overstated, our correspondent says.
The island’s President Ma Ying-jeou recently called again on the mainland to withdraw hundreds of missiles that are pointing at Taiwan.
For many Taiwanese the pandas are a nice gesture, but one that fails to address their main concern - the military threat from their more powerful neighbour.
Taiwan’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party criticised the panda deal.
"Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan means a union, which perfectly matches Beijing’s goal of bringing Taiwan into its fold," it said.
China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, but China claims sovereignty over Taiwan.