German media call to name Berlin′s new pandas Hong and Kong | News | DW | 06.09.2019
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German media call to name Berlin's new pandas Hong and Kong

A Berlin newspaper polled readers to ask for possible names for the zoo's new panda cubs. The top result? Hong and Kong. Now Germany's most popular tabloid is calling for the cubs' names to send a signal to China.

The Berlin Zoo's star panda cubs may only be a few days old, but calls are growing across Germany to use the babies' names to send a message to China about its rights record.

The Berlin-based Tagesspiegel newspaper polled its readers this week asking for name suggestions for the tiny cubs — with the names Hong and Kong emerging as the most popular result.

Readers also suggested naming the babies "Joshua Wong Chi-fung" and "Agnes Chow Ting" after pro-democracy protest leaders Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow — as well as Tien Tien and Anmen Anmen in reference to the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

"Maybe with those names, we might be able to keep them," Tagesspiegel wrote, remarking on the fact that the Berlin Zoo will not be allowed to keep the cubs, as China will take them back once they no longer need their mother.

Watch video 02:42

Berlin Zoo's panda gives birth to twins

'Germany could send a clear signal to China'

The German tabloid Bild also said it will be calling the cubs Hong and Kong to stand with the pro-democracy protesters and "because China's brutal policies are hiding behind these panda babies."

"Pandas are China's unwitting instruments to win the hearts and minds of Western citizens and blind them to its crimes," the tabloid wrote.

Wong himself told Bild on Thursday that he hopes the Berlin Zoo will name the two panda cubs Democracy and Freedom.

"Germany could send a clear signal to China," the protest leader said.

The debate over Berlin's ties with Beijing comes as Chancellor Angela Merkel kicks off a tricky tour in China on Friday, where she will have to walk a fine line between calling out Beijing on its human rights abuses while pushing for close economic ties.

Wong called on Merkel earlier this week to support the protesters in Hong Kong.

"We hope that you will express your concern about our catastrophic situation and that you will convey our demands to the Chinese government during your stay in China," the 22-year-old wrote in an open letter.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a welcome ceremony for Chinese panda bears

Although the cubs are cute, Germany's participation in China's 'panda diplomacy' has come under fire

Yin and Yang or Max and Moritz?

Tagesspiegel readers also offered up less politically charged, but no less eyebrow-raising names, including: Yin and Yang; Ping and Pong; Tai and Chi; Kung and Fu; as well as Bam and Bus (which when put together means "bamboo" in German).

Max and Moritz, the infamous tricksters from Germany's most famous children's book, were also floated as suggestions.

The Berlin Zoo has yet to open an official contest to name the cubs, who were born on Monday to giant panda Meng Meng after several unsuccessful attempts to breed pandas at the zoo.

Meng Meng and her male partner Jiao Qing made headlines across Germany when they arrived at the Berlin Zoo in 2017 as part of a 15-year loan agreement with China.

Under the agreement, the cubs must be returned to China after two to four years once they no longer need their mother.

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