[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 May 2005, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK
China offers Taiwan giant pandas
giant pandas (file picture)
China has often given visiting dignitaries giant pandas
China has announced a series of goodwill gestures towards Taiwan, including the gift of two giant pandas.

Pandas are considered China's ultimate diplomatic gesture, though it is not clear if Taiwan will accept the offer.

China is also preparing to lift a ban on its tourists visiting the island and to ease restrictions on some agricultural products.

The offer came on the final day of an historic visit to the mainland by Taiwanese opposition leader, Lien Chan.

Mr Lien 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.

Lien's visit... shifted people's thinking towards China, and the Communist Party
Lu Ya-li, Chinese Culture University

On his departure for Taipei from Shanghai on Tuesday, he said his visit had gone "smoothly and successfully".

"Wherever we went, we were welcomed by citizens who came voluntarily to show their friendship," Mr Lien said before boarding the plane.

"This is the most precious experience for us to remember for every member of the delegation."

'Cuddly looks'

The goodwill measures were announced by Chen Yunlin, the director of the Chinese Communist Party's Taiwan Work Office.

During the Cold War, China used to make a habit of sending important dignitaries away with pandas, but most exports are now loaned rather than donated.

Taiwan's Nationalist Party Chairman Lien Chan gestures as he speaks to Taiwanese businessmen in Shanghai, China, Monday, May 2, 2005.
Lien Chan was treated like a head of state during his visit

Taiwan's top China policymaker Joseph Wu says Taipei wouldn't accept the pandas if Beijing was attempting to downgrade the island's sovereign status as part of the gift.

He said the two sides had discussed sending pandas to Taiwan 10 times since 1992, but the island had been unable to provide a suitable environment for the endangered species.

Mainland analysts say political obstacles rather than technical problems are preventing Taiwan from accepting the pandas.

But Chen Yunlin said he hoped they would be accepted.

China's approach to Taiwan is very outdated and self-deceptive
Haogan, China

"We hope the pandas, with their tame nature, air of nobleness and cuddly looks will bring joy and laughter to the Taiwan compatriots, children in particular," he said.

He added China would exempt more than 10 types of fruit from import tariffs levied on Taiwan, while increasing the number of types it allows in from the island from 12 to 18.

Beijing is also preparing to lift restrictions on mainland Chinese visiting Taiwan as tourists.

Mixed reactions

Both Mr Lien and President Chen Shui-bian have made repeated calls for direct talks between the Taipei and Beijing governments, and on Tuesday Mr Chen called on China's leader Hu Jintao to visit the island.

But China has so far refused to negotiate with the Taiwanese president until he signs up to Beijing's so-called one-China policy - acknowledging that Taiwan is part of China. Mr Lien's trip marked the first time leaders from Taiwan's Nationalist Party and China's Communist Party had met since the Nationalists lost the civil war and fled to Taiwan in 1949.

He was treated like a head of state during his visit, with lavish receptions everywhere he went, a sign that Beijing was happy with the momentum created by his visit.

But the visit has provoked mixed reactions in Taiwan.

Taiwan head seeks Beijing talks
01 May 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Text of KMT-Beijing agreement
29 Apr 05 |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Lien Chan's landmark trip
29 Apr 05 |  In Pictures
Lien's China trip highlights tensions
27 Apr 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Lien Chan
26 Apr 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Chinese law a warning to Taiwan
14 Mar 05 |  Asia-Pacific


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific