Sat, Jan 28, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Pandas should be rejected, says Lu

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH AP

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) urged the government to reject a pair of pandas offered by China, saying the bears are part of a ploy to encourage Taiwan to unify with the communist nation, a news report said yesterday.

In an interview with the Chinese-language United Daily News, Lu said Taiwan should turn away the pair of one-year-old pandas that China has recently selected as a gift to give to Taiwan.

"The pandas are the modern version of Wang Chao-chun (王昭君)," Lu said, referring to the famous beauty who was offered as a concubine to the king of the Huns by Emperor Yuan in China's Han dynasty (about 100 A.D.)

Beijing hopes the pandas will strengthen Taiwanese public support for unification with China. But Taiwan, wary of any gifts from its rival, has not said whether it will accept the animals.

The two pandas were chosen from 11 pandas at the Wolong Nature Reserve in western China.

Keepers in charge of the selected pandas have said they have been singing to the bears in Taiwanese, noting that music is a language with no boundaries.

"The pandas are cute and I like them very much," Lu said. "But why were they forced to take lessons in the Taiwanese dialect?"

"If you really like the pandas, don't let them come to Taiwan but rather go and see them," she said.

Meanwhile, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Vice Chairman Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said yesterday that the Chinese government should remove its bans and censorship measures as soon as possible. Liu made the remarks at the council's weekly press conference.

The MAC released a table which listed the different measures the Chinese authorities have taken in the past three years to regulate the media.

"Freedom of speech is a universal right. We wish the Chinese government would not continue violating it," Liu said.

He said that the government is greatly concerned about China's anti-democratic measures, as they block the Chinese people from accessing diverse information and stop them from expressing themselves freely.

China's recent decision to shut down Freezing Point, an influential weekly, and ask the world's largest search engine, Google. to launch a Web site that will censor results to meet the government's requirements incurred an avalanche of criticism.

Apart from those incidents, the MAC said that the Chinese had taken another 40 measures as part of its crackdown on freedom of speech in the last three years.

"China's Propaganda Department also admitted that it has withdrawn79 publications from circulation," Liu said.

Reacting to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) suggestion to allow Chinese students to study in Taiwan's higher education system, Liu said that such a move would require considerable debate.

"It is not just a question of education. The government needs to take many things into account, like the impact on Taiwan's employment market," Liu said.

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