Pandas in the Mist: Naming and More Problems for Taiwan?

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Saturday October 11, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

While Taiwan's economy continues to slump, Mr. Ma, our regional administrator has been working (about the only area he seems to be actually doing some work in) and preparing behind the scenes to accept two pandas from China. These pandas are perhaps the sole vestige or legacy of Taiwan's well-known political loser Lien Chan to the country.

Since Lien could not democratically win an office in his lifetime in Taiwan, in grief he went back to China which he considers the motherland in the hopes that he could gain some motherly solace and sympathy as a wayward child returning. To give him face the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) offered him a consolation prize of a gift of pandas in lieu of a Trojan horse to bring back to Taiwan.

This took place under the government of President Chen Shui-bian, but Chen refused the Trojan horse ala pandas because of the obvious political overtones. China had not too subtly named the pandas Tuan-tuan and Yuan-yuan; if you combine the two names i.e. tuan-yuan it gives you the name "to reunite."

Of course while it seems that Mr. Ma is going to force the pandas on Taiwan, still the Taiwanese do not have to accept the names that China has given them. As a matter of fact, I think it would make a good exercise in Taiwan's democracy as well as testing our creativity, to come up with some names of our own for the pandas.

Here are a couple of examples that friends of mine have offered. At least one could be called doo-doo (毒毒) that translates into poison, an appropriate and symbolic name for much of what China has been sending Taiwan. Is there a Chinese word for melamine for the other panda?

Another variation would be to name the pair Dudu (獨獨) and Lili (立立); if you combine Du-li, it means "independence." Now that has a nice ring to it.

So there you have it; put your thinking caps on and I will try to find a venue and appropriate awards for where people can write in and suggest names for the pandas. To be Taiwanese is to be free.