Complete News World

China and the US: Panda propaganda instead of panda diplomacy?

China and the US: Panda propaganda instead of panda diplomacy?

The pandas at the Washington Zoo may soon have to move to China.Source: dpa

Mi Xiang, Tian Tian and little Xiao Qi Ji eat bamboo, go for walks and entertain visitors at the Washington Zoo. Pandas from China have been at home in the U.S. capital — for years. But it will probably end by early December. The animals must be returned to China. Existing contracts will not be extended.

This brings to an end a half-century-old agreement. In 1972, Beijing sent the first pandas to DC—the birth of so-called panda diplomacy. Beloved by all, the animals became a symbol of harmony, understanding – relaxation between China and the West.

Expert: Chinese “anger” with US

Beijing and Washington — President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden — are currently on a collision course. The Taiwan conflict, the trade conflict, dealing with the warlord in the Kremlin – China and the US are fighting each other on the diplomatic stage and many other issues. Now at the level of panda diplomacy?

China’s state and party leader Xi Jinping has accused the United States and the West with extraordinary clarity of seeking to block his country’s rise in the world.

March 7, 2023 | 02:47 minutes

Experts see the panda withdrawal as a sign, a signal from the government in Beijing. Dennis Wilder of Georgetown University in Washington told the AP news agency: “The Chinese are angry with us right now. They are angry about the (…) sanctions that the Biden administration has imposed on the Chinese and the problems the Chinese are in now. They have to get visas to the United States.”

So it’s entirely possible that China is trying to send a signal, Wilder said. The pandas will not be brought back from zoos in Doha or Thailand – but they will be brought back from zoos in the US.

Beijing is silent about the possible end of panda deaths in US zoos

What does Beijing say? As is often the case, a lot and really nothing. “Giant pandas are not only China’s national treasures, but ambassadors of friendship admired by people around the world (…).”

We stand ready to continue our work with partners, including the United States, to enhance cooperation in protecting endangered species.

Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing

A spokesman for the US State Department did not say why longtime “ambassadors of friendship” were being withdrawn from the US. If Washington loses the pandas, Zoo Atlanta in the US will have more giant pandas on display. The Chinese “credit period” ends at the end of next year.

Tensions between the US and China are now palpable. However, the interdependencies are large.

June 6, 2023 | 02:42 minutes

China lends pandas to zoos around the world

China maintains panda diplomatic relations with many countries. Berlin Zoo in Germany has animal ambassadors – including their offspring. Formally, the loans are for so-called “cooperative research projects” aimed at protecting endangered species.

Since the mid-1990s, Beijing has become increasingly expensive for valuable animals. It is said to cost one million US dollars a year per couple, but there are no exact figures. But it’s about more than research and money. Pandas are a magnet for visitors everywhere — and they’ve long been political, too.

In China they are considered a national symbol of friendship, peace and happiness – the People’s Republic of China now wants to phase out all ambassadors promoting this friendship from the US.

China and the US are on a collision course. Two major economic powers are fighting for supremacy. Growing tensions fuel fears of a new conflict.

02/01/2022 | 59:26 minutes