The Chinese Political Practice of Panda Diplomacy
The Chinese government have a practice referred to as “panda diplomacy” which is designed to provide other nations with pandas, which are impossible to ascertain outside of China. China offers the gift of a panda or pandas to nations which it wishes to have strong diplomatic or economic ties with and is considered a high honor amongst world leaders as not many have received this gift and gesture of good will. Ownership is not permanent as China only leases pandas, it does not relinquish them outright. As of 2019, 27 zoos in 22 countries or territories currently feature pandas on loan from China including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Hong Kong, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K., and the U.S.. The concept of panda diplomacy is not a new one as evidence of the practice dates back to the Tang Dynasty, when Empress Wu Zetian sent a pair of pandas to Emperor Tenmu of Japan in 685 A.D.
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