Fri, Mar 24, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Pandas should live in the wild: Chen

PANDA PANDERING The president wrote in his weekly e-newsletter that the pair of pandas China wants to give to Taiwan would be better off if they were left alone

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday called on Chinese leaders to leave the two giant pandas it intends to give Taiwan as gifts in their natural habitat, saying they would be happier there.

"A-bian [Chen] sincerely asks the Chinese leaders to allow the giant pandas to remain in their natural habitat, because they will not be happy if they are kept in captivity or given away as presents," he said. "Only if they live in the wild and are given the absolute right to live like us human beings can they live freely and breed willingly."

Chen made the remarks in his latest weekly A-bian e-newsletter, which is available online today.

The Council of Agriculture said on Wednesday it would decide in 10 days whether to accept China's offer.

Chen said in his e-newsletter that he was inspired by a book he recently read, Calling for Spring -- Panda Hutzi and I (呼喊春天 -- 貓熊虎子與我), in which the author, Pan Wen-shih (潘文石), chronicled the 13 years he spent with a giant panda called "Hutzi," which had to endure being trapped, placed in a zoo and participating in a breeding program that involved electric stimulation.

Pan's study, which included four more years spent observing other giant pandas, concluded that only wild pandas are capable of steady reproduction, earning the author the nickname "Panda Daddy."

Chen wrote that he was particularly impressed by a section of the book which said that giant pandas do not exist for the pleasure of humans and should not be kept in zoos.

"Giant pandas need to live in their natural habitat where they can feed, mate, live and die freely," Chen quoted Pan as saying.

Chen said that human beings liked to think that they could conquer nature, but that "we must learn how to peacefully coexist with other species ... so all life on this earth will be preserved."

With the UN's annual assembly meeting approaching, Chen also called on the world body to admit Taiwan as a member country as he claimed 80 percent of the public are in favor of the idea.

"As an independent, sovereign state, we should be given the opportunity to participate in international organizations, just like other countries. It is our duty and our right," Chen said. "If some people say that we cannot join the UN with the name `Taiwan,' I'd like to ask the world: Is there any better name?"

Chen said that Taiwan was willing to play the role of a responsible contributor to the international community and that the international community should not exclude the nation.

While UN Resolution No. 2758 allows for the representation of China's population, Chen said that it fails to serve the interests of the Taiwanese public.

Taiwan was very humble and yielding, Chen said, and the people of Taiwan had tried for the past 13 years to become a member of the UN family.

"However, China continues to ignore the needs of the 23 million people of Taiwan and to [restrict our ability to take part in international diplomacy]," he said. "This not only violates the universal values of freedom, democracy and human rights, but also hurts the feelings of both the Chinese and Taiwanese people. Nor is it conducive to cross-strait stability and development."

Beijing had to understand one fact, Chen said: Both East and West Germany were UN members before they were merged into a federal republic. North and South Korea are also members of the UN, he said.

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