Panda Politics

With the Taipei Zoo only two bus stops away from campus, it’s a little crazy it took me so long to finally check it out. I finally had some time recently to go (if you’re ever in Taiwan, go on a rainy day! No lines for the Pandas!)

Those who know me might roll their eyes at this post, knowing me as someone who turns everything possible, political… but really, believe me, the cute pandas in the Taipei Zoo are in fact, political. Like any panda, in any zoo around the world, the two pandas in Taipei are gifts from Mainland China. This practice has even has a name: Panda Diplomacy—I recently learned that the idea isn’t new! It dates back to the Tang Dynasty when Empress Wu gifted pandas to Japan. The US received their first two pandas after Nixon’s historic visit. It’s China’s unique way to practice diplomacy with nations it has developed certain relations with.

When 團團 (TuanTuan) and 圓圓 (YuanYuan) came to Taiwan in 2008, they were hugely controversial. One of Taiwan’s two main political parties, the Democratic Progressive Party (who strongly associate themselves with Taiwanese independence) fiercely protested the acceptance of these pandas. They see the pandas as propaganda by the Chinese government to pull Taiwan closer to reunification—after all, they’re names together 團圓 (Tuan Yuan) literally mean “family reunion”… However the party in power, the Kuomintang, welcomed the pandas. While the DPP requests that its party members do not visit the pandas, they still get long lines of visitor every day that required each guest to view the pandas only at their assigned time given to them upon entry to the park.

You won’t get an opinion from me about whether or not the pandas should be here in Taipei, but I will testify that they are adorable!