Panda diplomacy: China woos tech industry by sending bears to California


1 of 6 | Xiao Qi Ji, 9-month old male giant panda cub plays in a tree at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington in 2021. The cub was sent back to China last November. File Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo
March 1 (UPI) — A deal was signed between the San Diego Zoo and China’s Wildlife Conservation Association in February that paved the way for Chinese giant pandas to return to the United States by the end of the summer. But this is far more than just a deal between two zoos. It suggests a warming of relations between the United States and China, and a bid by China to help repair its struggling economy. Advertisement
For decades, China has used panda diplomacy, where Beijing gave or loaned its pandas as a sign of friendship or to strengthen national ties, to establish a good long-term relationship with other countries. However, in 2023, when China withdrew its giant pandas from the Smithsonian zoo in Washington, this seemed to symbolize how rocky the China-U.S. relationship had become.
Two pandas were given as a gift to the United States after President Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, and this was seen as a major breakthrough in modern U.S.-China relations. From the 1990s on, panda diplomacy was transformed into a long-term program involving conservation and scientific study.
Panda diplomacy is part of what is called


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