Sunday, May 01, 2011

Panda Diplomacy - a stupid idea!

Sunday May 1, 2011
Bring back panda diplomacy, China urged

KUALA LUMPUR: A community leader hopes that China will loan its most famous icon – the panda bear – as a recognition of the long-standing relationship between the two countries.

Malaysia was among the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with China and both countries have enjoyed a long history of diplomatic relations as well as trade exchanges, said president of the Federation of Chinese Asso­ciations Malaysia Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah.

“It will be of great significance if China can loan a pair of pandas to Malaysia as a symbolic gesture of the strong relationship between the two countries.

“Many countries have enjoyed this ‘panda diplomacy’,” he said in an interview.

Panda diplomacy, a practice which existed as far back as the Tang Dynasty, was revived in the 1950s and had been wildly popular.

Between 1958 to 1982, China gave 23 pandas to nine different countries.

One highlight of panda diplomacy was the Chinese government’s gift of two of the animals – named Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing – to the United States in 1972 after President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China.

Nixon reciprocated by sending a pair of musk oxen.

By 1984, however, pandas were no longer used as agents of diplomacy, as China began to offer the animals to other nations on 10-year loans, with standard loan terms including a fee of up to US$1mil (RM3mil) per year and a provision that any cub born during the loan would be the property of China.

Previously, there was an attempt to bring pandas to Ma­­laysia but it did not materialise because it involved high maintenance costs as well as the need for an agreement between leaders of both countries. — Bernama

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