AN ACCOMMODATION on arms sales to Taiwan is one thing, but now the representatives of the People's Republic of China have gone too far.

His excellency Chai-Zemin, the Chinese ambassador, has proposed two alternative names for the panda cub. You know, the panda cub -- the one that may or may not appear any day now, modern zoological science being incapable of detecting a giant panda pregnancy until it's just about over with. The zoo's director, Theodore H. Reed, has accepted the "suggestions." Quite the diplomat.

The names are no good. They will embroil the zoo and its parent agency, the Smithsonian, in enormous conflict, at least so we hope. Their appropriations will be at risk, perhaps linked to some trade or defense initiative. If the cub is male, his name will be Wei-Wei, which means something like "greatness" or "the meaning of greatness"; if it's female, her name will be Nei-Nei, which means "beautiful little girl." The Cultural Revolution obviously did not go far enough: these names have an unmistakable and unfortunate sexist character. The giant panda will, from birth, be inculcated with decadent, revisionist ideology. Wei-Wei will be macho and ambitious; Nei-Nei will be coy and reserved.

Even caged pandas should be liberated. Stop this outrage. What's the matter with Joshua and Tracy?