Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Panda-mania rocks Taiwan


By Ralph Jennings

Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan arrived in a city gripped by panda-mania today. You would think David Beckham or Tom Cruise had just flown into Taipei.

Local TV stations announced the arrival of the two giant pandas from China with the rolling headline: “We’re coming!” TV anchors working the story have given viewers across Taiwan every detail imaginable about the four-year-old pandas — from the fruit and corn buns they love to eat to hopes they will mate at the Taipei zoo and produce a cub.

Michael Turton, a widely read English-language blogger in Taiwan, said China had scored a public relations coup by donating the pandas to its political rival across the Taiwan Strait. “Pandas are so non-threatening … They’re so cute and they’re so widely accepted all over the world as a symbol of China. It’s very successful.”

Not long ago, the pandas would probably have flown to Taiwan via Hong Kong. But since Taiwan’s pro-China President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May, once icy ties have warmed and the pandas flew direct from China, courtesy of direct daily air links that took effect last week.