Monday, March 20, 2006

Can Taiwan resist da'Ling-a-Ling?

Taiwan is refusing two bears unless China recognizes its autonomy. But no nation has yet withstood the onslaught of panda diplomacy.

"The pandas are a trick, just like the Trojan horse," said lawmaker Huang Shi-cho of the Taiwan Solidarity Union party. "Pandas are cute, but they are meant to destroy Taiwan's psychological defenses."

However, most Taiwanese appear happy to have their psychological defenses destroyed by an animal that has melted hearts for centuries. One poll found that more than 70% are in favor of accepting the gift.

"We'd love to have them come to Taiwan," said Zhang Hong-yu, a 32-year-old factory worker from Hsinchu, who traveled to see the furry celebrities here in Wolong, a nature reserve and panda research center deep in the bamboo-laden mountains of central Sichuan province. "We don't care about politics. I'd love to jump over the fence and hug them!"

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