By Chen Qingqing and Ji Yuqiao (Global Times) 08:22, 15 February 2022
Giant pandas eat at the snow-covered Shenshuping Base of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, southwestern China’s Sichuan province, February 9, 2022. (Xinhua)
Former United States President Richard Nixon, a Republican, made a historic trip to China in 1972, revealing a new page on US-China relations. But 50 years later, more Republicans take China as a threat with an ideology-centered perspective, as some even began manipulating the symbols of peace and love like the panda and long-term giant panda collaboration research and breeding programs between China and zoos abroad. has now become a new target for the anti-China campaign. The trend reflects a failing country and hysteria among some U.S. politicians, Chinese experts said.
Combining the latest panda bill introduced by Republican Nancy Mace with a decades-long tradition between China and the United States in offering pandas as a gesture of friendship, the New York Times on Sunday released an article questioning whether it is on time to change such a tradition, with so-called experts saying that pandas are seen as a way to “soften China’s authoritarian image”.
Referring to experts, the US media claimed that “China’s approach to panda diplomacy has changed,” as the panda’s survival prospects have improved and pandas have come to “earn more from a shield for China’s human rights abuses and a tool to project soft power. “
However, Chinese experts on pandas, overseas zoos and observers rejected the claim, calling it narrow-minded, baseless and even ridiculous, as China’s panda “on loan” practice is not only a diplomatic tradition but also a means of scientific cooperation across world to preserve the common tax.
And the extension of the giant panda agreement also facilitates further research in various sectors, such as restoring the panda’s habitat and assessing the impact of climate change, they added.
Meanwhile, a researcher at the US-funded Australian think tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute also took it to mascot Bing Dwen Dwen for the Winter Olympics in Beijing 2022 – a playful panda wearing an ice-cold shell – and used it as a tool to criticize the Chinese “propaganda and information operations.”
However, a growing number of stories of warm and friendly people-to-people interactions, especially among athletes and volunteers during the Winter Games, formed a stark contrast to these think tanks, American politicians, and media-driven tales of China. Some stories served as a living contradiction to the long-standing lies about China, driven by American media and politicians, some observers said.
Prior to 1982, giant pandas were given away to other countries by the Chinese government as a sign of friendship and goodwill, according to open documents. For example, two giant pandas were given to the United States as gifts after former US President Richard Nixon visited China in 1972.
Before 1982, China practiced the policy of giving pandas as gifts to other countries, but after assessing the number of pandas in the late 1970s, China found that the animals were rare and endangered species, and given the diplomatic factors it is impossible to give pandas infinitely. . So China put an end to the “give-away” policy and stopped presenting the national treasure as a gift in 1982, Zhao Songsheng, leader of YueWeiLai, a Chengdu-based giant panda protection NGO, told the Global Times on Monday .
The “lending policy” then started with a focus on pursuing cooperation on the conservation of the rare animals with zoos around the world.
The pandas are then offered on loan, usually on a 10-year term from China to some countries, and the “on-lan” program usually highlights close partnerships and scientific cooperation between China and other countries.
China has collaborated on the conservation of giant pandas with 22 zoos in 18 countries, Chinese Foreign Minister Hua Chunying, a spokesman for the February 2021 press conference, said.
When the giant panda Huan Huan, on loan to Beauval Zoo in France, gave birth in 2021, Chinese panda experts from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding went to France to help the panda give birth to cubs. Chinese experts also offered remote instructions to their counterparts at the Japanese Adventure World theme park in Shirahama, Wakayama, in November 2020 to provide guidance during the pandas’ mating, pregnancy and birth.
When the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and China Wildlife Conservation Association extended their giant panda research agreement by the end of 2020 for three years, Steve Monfort, John and Adrienne Mars, director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, said in a statement that through science and the power of cooperation, and with the support of the public and the benefactors, work continues on behalf of this beloved bear species.
For decades, the mortgage loan has been part of human-to-people interactions between the United States and China. “China can send a pair of healthy and skilled giant pandas to other countries for a 10-year research period in which the bred offspring is owned by China, which is the practice that is universally recognized and supported,” Zhao said.
In the latest bill, the U.S. Republican said pandas born in the United States should not be returned to China. Such a proposal not only goes against the long-term established agreements in the field of animal protection and scientific cooperation, but further revealed the anti-China tactics that some US politicians have played, experts said.
Actions say more than words
“From the latest panda bill, you can tell that some anti-China politicians in the United States have done what they can to smear images related to China, even with the lovable and positive symbols,” Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Monday.
As a symbol of peace and love, the panda can now be used to attack China, associate it with human rights issues and be used as a tool to advance Washington’s anti-China policies, reflecting the extensive efforts of American politicians to tarnish China’s image. , Li noted.
But such a hysterical mindset from some American politicians has little bearing on the true people-to-people interaction between China and the United States, especially at the Beijing Olympics in 2022, which serves as a bridge between solidarity and mutual understanding.
U.S. freestyle ski athlete Aaron Blunck said during his recent briefing that China has done a “star job” with COVID-19 protocols for the Winter Olympics, adding that “by being a state side, you heard some pretty bad media (in terms of COVID), and that’s completely false. “
Additionally, the touching moments between American snowboarder Tessa Maud and a Chinese volunteer as well as her genuine love for China have been trending on Chinese social media for days, applauded by many Chinese netizens. And all of these examples made that tactic of slandering and smearing China’s image even trivial, experts said.
“Driven by long-term biased ideology, Mace has been under pressure from the party in the upcoming midterm elections. Having also manipulated the Taiwan issue last year, the Republican was eager to politicize more China-related issues to achieve political results,” Diao Daming , an associate professor at Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.
As China and the US will soon celebrate the 50th anniversary of Nixon’s trip to China, such a tactic that goes against people’s hearts and people-to-people interactions between the two countries revealed the dilemma and difficulties in the relationship between China and the US, Diao said and noted that such a challenging situation, caused by certain American politicians, requires a deeper reflection of Washington.
(Web Editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)