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Taiwan urged to accept goodwill gift
Latest Updated by 2006-03-30 09:18:35
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Beijing has called on Taiwan authorities not to politicize the mainland's goodwill gift of two giant pandas amid speculation that Taipei may refuse them.

The offer of the pandas was made to Taiwan last May, after the historic visit of opposition leader of Kuomintang to the mainland.

Although the gesture was well-received by more than 70 per cent of Taiwan's public, the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration described the offer of the cubs as politically motivated.

"We hope Taiwan authorities will not perceive this goodwill gesture as having political motives," said Li Weiyi, spokesman with the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

The decision about whether the pandas will be allowed into the island rests with the DPP administration, Li urged the politicians who were politicizing the issue to think about the Taiwan people's love of the animals and not to disappoint them by refusing the gift.

The island's council of agriculture is expected to render a formal decision by April 3 on whether it will accept the animals. Two zoos in Taipei have applied for permission to house them.

The decision will be heavily influenced by strong opposition from Taiwan's leader Chen Shui-bian, who has repeatedly asked Beijing to drop the idea of giving the island the pandas.

The two pandas offered to Taiwan were picked from 11 animals at the Wolong Giant Panda Research Centre in the southwestern province of Sichuan. They were named Tuantuan and Yuanyuan, which means "reunion" in Chinese.

The giant panda is one of the world's most endangered species and is only found in China. An estimated 1,800 live in the wild and 180 in zoos and breeding centres.

At the news briefing, Li also condemned the DPP administration for planning to tighten control over cross-Straits economic and trade exchanges.

"Such restrictions and intervention will impair Taiwan's economy," he said.

In line with Chen's call for "effective management" over cross-Straits ties, Taiwan's mainland affairs council has unveiled new measures designed to restrict corporate investments in the mainland.

Under the new rules, mainland-bound investments valued at over US$100 million will have to undergo an additional "policy review," over and above the standard regulatory hurdles local companies already face.

But the new measures have drawn mounting criticism from the public and industry and commerce circles on the island.

Despite political tensions, cross-Straits economic ties have grown stronger over the past two decades.

By the end of 2005, Taiwan investors had funded 68,095 projects on the mainland, with contract investments of US$89.69 billion. Trade volume between the two sides reached US$91.23 billion last year, with the mainland being Taiwan's biggest export market and largest source of trade surplus.

By 2005 the island had gained an accumulated trade surplus of US$330 billion from the mainland.

Editor: Yan

By: Xing Zhigang Source: China Daily Website
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