The giant pandas are finally … um, probably … going to Taiwan after 19 years waiting. Um, probably. According to a press conference held in Beijing late in the week, China finally unveiled the panda pair from 23 nominees today as a gift offer to Taiwan.
The panda couple, both less than two years old, were raised in the Wolong China Giant Panda Research Center in southwestern Sichuan Province. The male panda, first son of the U.S.-born star panda Hua Mei, is one year and four months old and weighs 46kg. His mate is one month older than him and weighs 48kg. The selection was based on a three-month “trial marriage” which tested whether the couple was a good fit. The government is now soliciting names for the pandas, which are required to contain two Chinese characters.
Dai Xiaofeng, head of the exchange bureau of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said, “We hope the couple can meet the Taiwan compatriots as soon as possible and the Taiwan authorities can follow the wishes of the people on the two sides of the Taiwan Straits, providing active cooperation on this issue.”
Reports say that Taiwan is “irked” by the offer, saying that the Mainland should have consulted the island before making the announcement, and that China was trying to bully Taiwan into accepting the offer, which to many, obviously, is about much more than two cute furry animals. Various polls, of varying levels of reliability, show that a majority of Taiwan residents would accept the pandas.
The panda is one of the rarest animals in the world, and considered one of China’s national treasures. In the past, China has offered giant panda to countries including Japan and United States.