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China’s President Xi Jinping Vows to Expand America’s Panda Conservation Efforts

Speaking at a gathering of business leaders in San Francisco on November 15, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced plans to send more pandas to the United States as a symbol of friendship between the Chinese and American people.

He expressed readiness to continue collaborating with the United States on panda conservation and to fulfill the desires of the people of California in order to strengthen the friendly ties between the two nations.

Credit: DepositPhotos

During his speech, Xi acknowledged the recent return of the three pandas from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C. to China, noting that many Americans, particularly children, were reluctant to bid farewell to the pandas and visited the zoo to see them off. He also mentioned the anticipation of the San Diego Zoo and the people of California to welcome pandas back.

The pandas from the Smithsonian National Zoo, including two adults named Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, along with their three-year-old cub Xiao Qi Ji, returned to China on November 8. Xiao Qi Ji, whose name means “Little Miracle,” was given this name in celebration of his unexpected birth to Mei Xiang, who was considered too old to give birth.

His birth brought joy during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic and generated high levels of interest through the National Zoo’s online Panda Cam.

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The departing pandas are expected to reside in a nature preserve in Sichuan province along with approximately 150 other pandas. The New York Times lamented the departure of the Smithsonian’s pandas as the end of “panda diplomacy,” which originated after First Lady Patricia Nixon expressed her love for pandas during President Richard Nixon’s visit to Beijing in 1972.

Interestingly, China had actually gifted its first pandas to the United States in 1941. Soong Mei-ling, wife of Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek, presented America with a “chubby pair of comical black and white furry pandas” as a token of gratitude for assisting Chinese refugees during the Sino-Japanese War.

Credit: DepositPhotos

Since then, there have been pandas in Washington D.C. Mei Xiang and Tian Tian arrived at the National Zoo in 2000, following the deaths of the two pandas that resided there previously due to kidney disease and heart failure. China provides pandas to other countries through contracts lasting three to ten years.

Cubs are typically returned to China after three or four years, while adult pandas return when they reach old age, such as Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.

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As Xi hinted during his speech, the San Diego Zoo sent its elderly panda and her cub back to China in 2019. The only remaining giant pandas in the United States currently reside at Zoo Atlanta, but they are scheduled to return to China next year.

While there have been no official statements declaring an end to “panda diplomacy,” some individuals speculate that the tense relations between Washington and Beijing could impact future panda exchanges.

The Associated Press (AP) reported last week that there has been public pressure in China to request the return of giant pandas, alongside unverified allegations of mistreatment by U.S. zoos.

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Malik is a skilled writer with a passion for news and current events. With their keen eye for detail, they provide insightful perspectives on the latest happenings. Stay informed and engaged!