BEIJING - China on Friday called Governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara's proposal to name a panda cub a "cheap farce."
"Pandas are envoys of friendship," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular news briefing in response to a question on Ishihara's proposal.
Ishihara proposed Thursday that if a panda currently leased from China gives birth to a cub at a Tokyo zoo, it should be named after the so-called "Senkaku Islands" (China's Diaoyu Islands).
"If a cub is born, it should be named 'Sen Sen' or 'Kaku Kaku, '" Ishihara said, as quoted by media reports.
"We will (eventually) return a panda cub (to China), right?" Ishihara said. "Our counterpart would at least be able to exercise sovereignty" over a panda with the name of the islands.
Commenting on Ishihara's proposal, Hong said the Japanese official's "cheap" and "shameful" farce, which was deliberately made to impair China-Japan relations, will only blemish the image of Tokyo as well as that of Japan.
"No matter what names Ishihara gives to Chinese pandas, he cannot change the fact that the pandas belong to China, just as Japan cannot change the fact that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China no matter what names it gives to the islands and their adjacent islets," he added.