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Chinese animal diplomacy: Pandas leave America

Chinese animal diplomacy: Pandas leave America

A panda at the Washington Zoo in early November shortly before his return to China
Photo: Agence France-Presse

Bears are voracious, expensive, and difficult to replace in the world of diplomacy. China is now returning loans from America, which is a bad omen for trade relations.

IIn the week that ended, three pandas, Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, ​​and Xiao Zhijie, were flown from Washington to Chengdu, China. The farewell is not only a turning point for the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, but also symbolizes the cooling of Sino-American relations. The United States, which once had pandas in four zoos, now finds itself with nearly empty enclosures. Zoo Atlanta is the last in the United States to house the beloved bears. But their return to China is also scheduled for next year.

Next week, US President Joe Biden will meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping at a trade summit in San Francisco to normalize relations between the two countries. Based on the number of pandas in the United States, they are worse than they have been in a long time. The standard is less ridiculous than it sounds. For the Chinese government, pandas have always been a means of commercial diplomacy. When China’s relations with a country reach a new level, the connection is often embellished by the addition of pandas.