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Taiwan panda selection reaches final stages
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-14 05:57

Beijing yesterday shortlisted 11 giant pandas as candidates for the pair to be sent to Taiwan as a goodwill gift.

The pandas six males and five females were selected from 23 at the China Giant Panda Research Centre in Wolong in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

Beijing yesterday short listed 11 giant pandas as candidates for the pair to be sent to Taiwan as a goodwill gift.
Two giant pandas play at China Giant Panda Protection and Research Centre in Wolong National Natural Reserve, southwest China's Sichuan province, in this May 14, 2005 file photo. [newsphoto]

Zhang Hemin, director of the centre, presented resumes of the candidates outlining their age, weight, family tree, and personality at a regular press conference of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

In the coming weeks, panda experts will match-up the animals, all aged between one and five, for "trial marriages."

According to Zhang, the marriages are expected to last about 20 days to establish which pairing is likely to be the most successful.

"Only by doing so can we ensure the best pair of pandas are finally picked to represent the common aspirations of the 1.3 billion compatriots on the mainland," said Zhang, also head of the nine-member giant panda selection panel.

Li Weiyi, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office, joked that the period will be like a series of "dates" for the 11 pandas, all artificially bred at the Wolong centre.

Both Li and Zhang declined to specify when the final pair would be chosen.

Beijing made the panda offer as a goodwill gesture in early May, at the end of a historic visit to the mainland by Lien Chan, former chairman of Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT) party.

Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party administration, however, has been blocking the offer, describing it as part of Beijing's "united front" strategy against the island.

At the press briefing, Li confirmed that Lien will pay a second visit to the mainland between October 14 and 28 as honorary KMT chairman.

The spokesman also announced the mainland will hold a series of commemorative events to mark the 60th anniversary of Taiwan's liberation from Japan's 50-year colonial rule.

On October 25, 1945, Japan returned the island to the then "Republic of China" government at the end of World War II.

Li also expressed China's total opposition towards former Taiwan leader Li Teng-hui's visit to the United States.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan yesterday expressed firm opposition to Taipei's assignment of the island's "legislative speaker" Wang Jin-pyng to attend the informal meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC).

(China Daily 10/14/2005 page3)

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