For years, China has practiced “panda diplomacy,” the art of lending ursids to maintain relations with other countries. A potential sign of deteriorating relations with the West, the United States and the United Kingdom, will no longer have a panda.
In a few months there will be no more pandas on American soil. For the first time in 60 years. The reason is simple: Beijing has not renewed its loan agreements and wants to recover its Ursidae. In the United Kingdom and Australia, the situation appears similar.
Over the years, China has practiced “panda diplomacy,” which aims to build relationships with host countries by offering animals to various zoos around the world. The breakthrough therefore serves as a weak signal of the deterioration of China-West relations.
“Maybe this is a way for Beijing, which is probably not satisfied with the way things are going,” it suggested. The Washington Post Chee Meng Tan is Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham and specializes in panda diplomacy.
“Maybe it’s a way, you’re not treating us well, so we’re taking our pandas,” he added.
Departure of Yuan Meng
Pandas have been in the United States since 1972, when Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai presented two giant pandas to First Lady Pat Nixon as a sign of improving relations between the two countries.
These animals have become very important in bilateral relations, said former Chinese ambassador to Washington, Cui Tiancai:
“There are actually two Chinese ambassadors in Washington, me and the little panda.”
France bids farewell to Panda Yuan Meng, the first baby born in France in Beauval Zoopark (Loir-et-Cher). Demonstrating the symbolic importance of the moment, First Lady Brigitte Macron bid him farewell at the airport.
“Don’t worry, we have four more, and I believe that in a year, two or three years, there will be more pandas,” said Lu Xie, the Chinese ambassador to France.
As relations between the West and China falter, one country continues to build solid ties: Russia. In 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin gifted two giant pandas to the Moscow Zoo on a 15-year loan. It may soon welcome others.
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