Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Pandamonium!!!!!!11 Has Hell Frozen Over... Again?

China announced a series of goodwill gestures towards Taiwan.  First, China has offered up the ultimate diplomatic gesture:  two pandas.  During the Cold War, China used to make a habit of sending important dignitaries away with pandas; China usually loans the pandas rather than donates them.  However, Taiwan gets to keep two of their very own!!  Besides pandas, they are lifting the ban on Chinese tourists traveling to Taiwan.  Lastly, China will exempt more than ten types of fruit from import tariffs levied on Taiwan, while increasing the number of types it allows in from the island from twelve to eighteen. 

These gestures emerged on the final day that Taiwanese opposition leader, Lien Chan, visited the mainland.  Lien Chan is the first Nationalist leader to make the trip since the party was driven off the Chinese mainland in 1949 by the Communist party following the Chinese civil war.

So what does this all mean?  Has China turned over a new leaf?  After the Olympics and their involvement in African development, is this just one more act to prove to the international community that they are not all bad?  I would love to say yes, but we have to first take a closer look...

Since 1992, China has tried to give pandas to Taiwan ten different times.  Thus, this isn't the first time hell has frozen over.  So why hasn't Taiwan accepted the diplomatic gift?  The Taiwanese are fearful that the gesture is tied to a downgrade of the island's sovereignty.  This fear is valid, due to China's extreme opposition to Taiwanese sovereignty.  

Perhaps  if China wants to prove to the international community that they have in fact turned over a new leaf, acknowledging Taiwan's sovereignty might just be the first step.  Although, who wouldn't want a panda, they're so cute and cuddly!    

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