China Resumes 'Panda Diplomacy' with US and Europe: How Does it Work?
China Resumes 'Panda Diplomacy' with US and Europe: How Does it Work?

China is set to restart its ‘Panda Diplomacy’ with the US and Europe. This move indicates a renewed effort by China to loan pandas to foreign zoos after recent years of bringing them back home.

China's wildlife agency has struck a deal with the San Diego Zoo in California and the Madrid Zoo in Spain for a fresh round of international cooperation on panda conservation, as per a statement on the Chinese Embassy's official WeChat account in the US.

The San Diego Zoo officials have informed the Associated Press that the first pair of pandas, a male and a female, could be arriving by late summer. Additionally, China is in talks to renew cooperation with the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and Austria’s Schönbrunn Zoo.

This move signifies China's efforts to mend ties with the West, especially with the US. There were heightened expectations for the return of these iconic animals to the US after a meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in California last November. During the meeting, Xi expressed China's willingness to continue cooperating with the US on panda conservation to strengthen friendly relations.

However, it remains uncertain when this process will commence or if it will be in time to prevent the departure of the remaining pandas in the US. Last year, officials at Washington’s National Zoo sent back their three giant pandas when their loan contracts with China expired, leaving the facility without pandas for the first time in decades.

The National Zoo initially received a pair of pandas from Beijing in 1972 following President Richard Nixon’s visit to China, which was a pivotal moment in normalizing relations between the two countries.

San Diego's pandas were returned to China in 2018 and 2019 after their loan agreements ended. Currently, Zoo Atlanta is the sole place in the US housing pandas, but they are also scheduled to return to China this year.

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