The Impact of China’s Latest Panda Diplomacy with the US and What To Be Cautious About

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington DC has announced that it will soon be receiving two giant pandas from China, marking a significant chapter in China’s panda diplomacy history with the US. The arrival of two-year-old male panda Bao Li and two-year-old female panda Qing Bao comes at a time of tense relations between the two countries, highlighting the use of pandas as a soft power tool in diplomatic relations. This move is part of a new agreement signed with the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWSA), where the National Zoo will pay an annual fee to support research and conservation efforts in China. While the presence of pandas at the National Zoo is a major draw for visitors and viewers around the world, it is essential to be cautious about the implications of this type of diplomacy. Be mindful that the pandas and any offspring will remain under the ownership of China, and any cubs born will be moved back to China by the age of four. This raises concerns about the breeding and conservation practices involved in the exchange of these endangered animals. Additionally, the use of pandas as a tool in diplomatic relations can distract from more pressing economic and political issues between the two countries. It is vital to view this panda diplomacy with a critical eye and ensure that the well-being and conservation of these animals remain a top priority amidst the political symbolism they represent.