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↑China gave pandas Tuan Tuan (above) and Yuan Yuan to Taiwan as part of what some say is a unification agenda.
Taiwan party calls pandas ‘unification propaganda’
Associated Press

Taipei, Taiwan —- Legislative aides from Taiwan’s pro-independence opposition donned panda suits Wednesday, part of a public relations effort by anti-China lawmakers to paint the mainland’s panda gift as a stalking horse for its pro-unification agenda.

The anti-panda offensive from the Democratic Progressive Party came a day after two pandas —- Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan —- arrived at the Taipei zoo after a three hour-flight from China’s Sichuan province. The pandas will go on display in late January and are expected to be greeted by thousands of enthusiastic spectators.

“China has long used pandas as political weapons, and Taiwan is no exception,” DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-Wen said.

The pandas’ names taken together mean “reunion,” and many Taiwanese believe Beijing hopes the panda gift will pave the way for union between the two.

Lawmaker Twu Shiing-jer called the animals “unification propaganda.”

China initially offered the pandas in 2005 when the DPP was still in power. In keeping with the party’s insistence on emphasizing Taiwan’s de facto independence, the government declined the offer. Not long after Ma Ying-jeou of the rival Nationalist Party was inaugurated as president in May, the offer of the pandas was accepted.

The Nationalists favor vigorous economic and political engagement with Beijing, but Ma himself has said repeatedly he will not discuss unification during his time in office.

Presiding over a military exercise in southern Taiwan on Wednesday, he insisted the island still needs a strong defense, despite rapidly improving relations with Beijing. “[Taiwan’s] military has not decreased its readiness following the improvement in cross-strait relations,” Ma said. “We will not negotiate with China in fear, but rather we will be backed up [by a strong military].”

【2008/12/25 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution】報紙原貌

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