China’s Panda Diplomacy

Giant panda bear cub Bao Bao moves around inside the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park January 6, 2014 in Washington, DC Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

China is famous for its pandas. But there are actually quite a few pandas in the United States if you’d like to see them, especially a new baby was just born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in last August and the baby girl looks like she is getting the right kind of love and attention across the whole nation; however, most of them don’treally live here, at least not permanently. They are on extended vacations of sorts, since China still holds their ownership as part of a lucrative panda lending program.

The newest baby panda cub at the National Zoo in Washington named Bao Bao (means baby). Prior to the new baby, her mother Mei Xiang and her mate Tian Tian had a son named Tai Shan in 2005.  He was the first panda cub born in the U.S. to survive more than a few days and Tai Shan became a crowd favorite. The original agreement between the U.S. and China was supposed to send Tai Shan back to China in 2007, when he was 2 years old.  However, the public requested more time with the little guy and China agreed to extend Tai Shan’s stay for another two years, which allowed him to live in the U.S., when George W. Bush went to China for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In July 2009, Tai Shan’s trip was extended for another six months, by chance or intentionally, when Barack Obama visited China for the first time after he became president.

In January 2010, the two countries finally agreed that Tai Shan would ship off to his motherland before the Chinese New Year. Once again the public tried to keep the little panda in Washington, but the Chinese government eventually recalled Tai Shan, right after the White House spokesman announced that president Obama is going to meet with the Dalai Lama.

Over the past 30 years, panda has always been worked as the most effective diplomat for China in the global market, especially when dealing with the U.S. Certainly, as the new baby is getting the national wide attention, one can tell from Tai Shan’s journey that the new baby is going to give us something more than entertaining, instead, a deep insight forecast on US-China relations.

3 thoughts on “China’s Panda Diplomacy”

  1. Thank you for your post. I think it highlights one of the main themes of this weeks readings, the idea that the effectiveness of soft power ultimately comes down to a country’s attractiveness. China clearly befits from being home to (arguably) one of the cutest animals out there. But to what extent does a country’s attractiveness “work” for a country? What does successful public diplomacy entail exactly? How can a country successfully utilize soft power to its advantage ? Can a country create soft power or is it something that just happens?

    China takes advantage of of its rich cultural heritage and adorable pandas, but then it leaves the question of what about nations who’s cultural heritage is little known and who struggle to compete in the face of today’s global economy? How can they be noticed in this world of increasing information and increasing attempts for country’s to get noticed. What about those who struggle? Chinese culture has already had time to become popular in the State and it’s made it’s certainly made its mark, but not every country has had this kind of attention, let alone the economic growth that and increasing notice that China s getting. Not everyone is lucky enough to have pandas.

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