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Names of Panda Couple for Taiwan Compatriots Unveiled
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Pet names of the giant panda couple, to be presented to the Taiwan compatriots as a goodwill gift from the mainland, were unveiled in Beijing midnight Saturday.

The most favored names for the pandas, selected by the public via the Internet voting or mobile phone short message ballots over a three-week period, are "Tuan Tuan" and "Yuan Yuan", which have a combined meaning of "reunion" literally.
The names were announced at the annual Spring Festival Eve entertainment party of China Central Television (CCTV), live broadcast to hundreds of millions of Chinese viewers worldwide.
This year's Spring Festival, or the Chinese lunar New Year, falls on Sunday.
The two giant pandas, selected from 23 candidates, currently live at the Wolong China Giant Panda Research Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan.
Previously the two pandas were only known by their candidate numbers, "No. 16" for the female one and "No.19" for the male.
But the pandas do have their nicknames at the Wolong Center, which are "Xiaoguaiguai" -- literally means "little darling" for the male and "Huangmao Yatou" -- literally means "chit of a girl" for the female.
The mainland launched a public soliciting of the panda couple's pet names on Jannuary 6, when the State Forestry Administration unveiled the two bears' identity. By Jannuary 21, organizers of the naming activity had received more than 70,000 pairs of name suggestions for the couple.
However, the mainland has said the right to give formal names to the pandas rests with the Taiwan compatriots themselves.
Organizers of the CCTV gala released a short list of 10 pairs of pet names at 8:30 PM and at the same time started an audience voting via the Internet, telephone and mobile phone short messages.
"Tuan Tuan" and "Yuan Yuan" had been in the lead during the whole voting process.
More than 100 million people voted, the organizers said.
Chen Yunlin, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, announced during then Kuomintang party chief Lien Chan's mainland visit last May, that the mainland would donate a giant panda couple to Taiwan compatriots as a gift embodying the aspiration for peace, unity and fraternity of Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.
The selection of the couple started last August. Following physical, genetic and psychological tests of 23 candidates, experts in October produced a list of 11 giant pandas, two of which would be made a match.
The final decision was made after two months of cohabitation of the 11 giant pandas.
However, when the giant panda couple would go to Taiwan remains a question as the Taiwan authorities are still playing the admission of the giant pandas as a political card.
According to Taiwan media reports, the authorities on the island said early this month that the giant pandas could not enter Taiwan without permission.
Giant panda is one of the world's most endangered species and is found only in China. It is estimated that 1,590 giant pandas live in the wild in China. Those in captivity totaled 183 in the Chinese mainland at the end last year.

(Xinhua News Agency January 29, 2006)


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