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Panda Diplomacy 2.0: President Xi Jinping Hints at Increased Panda Diplomacy with the U.S. 2024-04-17 05:57:28

"Panda Diplomacy Redux: President Xi Jinping Signals Renewed Panda Cooperation with the U.S."

In the wake of a meeting with President Biden in California, Chinese President Xi Jinping hinted at a revitalization of "panda diplomacy" between China and the United States. The announcement, made during a dinner with business leaders in San Francisco, indicates a willingness to strengthen ties through the longstanding practice of gifting or loaning giant pandas as a gesture of goodwill.

"Pandas have long been envoys of friendship between China and the U.S.," remarked Xi, emphasizing the role of these iconic creatures in fostering positive relations. Despite recent tensions between the two nations, Xi expressed China's readiness to continue cooperation on panda protection and fulfill the desires of the Californian people to deepen friendly ties.

Xi shared insights from his discussions, revealing that Americans, including children, were reluctant to part with three pandas—Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their cub, Xiao Qi Ji—from the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C. earlier this month. The pandas, originally intended for a 10-year stay, remained at the zoo for an extended period due to their popularity.

The Chinese President acknowledged the anticipation of the San Diego Zoo and the people of California to welcome pandas back, highlighting the historical connection between the region and these beloved animals. Past pandas at the San Diego Zoo contributed to a legacy of six offspring before their return to China in 2019.

Xi's positive remarks on panda diplomacy followed his meeting with President Biden, during which both nations announced the resumption of military-to-military contact and renewed cooperation on counternarcotics. Currently, only four giant pandas reside in the U.S., all at the Atlanta Zoo. The agreement with China stipulates that the younger cubs will return at the end of 2024, with their parents expected to follow suit.

As the mid-1990s agreement governing panda loans nears its expiration in 2024, discussions about its extension have not yet taken place, leaving the future of panda diplomacy between China and the U.S. an intriguing aspect to watch in the evolving landscape of international relations."

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