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China announces giant pandas will return to San Diego

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More recently, the United States and China may have disagreed over Russia’s war in Ukraine, cheap Chinese exports, tensions with Taiwan and human rights issues.

But when it comes to giant pandas, diplomacy is back.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed this week Two giant pandas – Yunchuan and Xinbao – will be sent to the San Diego Zoo from the China Conservation Research Center. The zoo has a long-standing partnership with China in giant panda conservation research, and a ministry spokesman said upcoming exchanges will focus on major disease prevention and habitat protection.

“We believe that as China-U.S. cooperation in this field continues to deepen, it will enhance cooperative research capabilities in endangered wildlife and biodiversity conservation, and contribute to the protection of endangered wildlife and Sino-U.S. friendship.”, said.

It’s unclear when the new pandas will arrive, but the agreement should ease concerns that recent tensions between the United States and China will threaten the beloved tradition of panda diplomacy.

China has been loaning bears to U.S. zoos more than five years as a goodwill gesture between the two countries.But as the United States returns most of its giant pandas to China over the past few years, many admirers worry This practice may end.

In November, two adult giant pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, ​​and their 3-year-old cub Xiao Qi Ji were transported by truck from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and then returned to China on a FedEx Boeing 777 aircraft to express their gratitude. The San Diego Zoo sent back its last batch of giant pandas in 2019.Last April, the Memphis Zoo Returned its female giant pandaYaya.

Leaders of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance conservation team recently traveled to China to meet giant pandas. “Yunchuan” is a nearly 5-year-old male giant panda whose mother was born in 2007 at the San Diego Zoo. “Xinbao” is a nearly 4-year-old female giant panda born at the Shenshuping Giant Panda Base in Wolong, Sichuan Province. A member of the Protective Alliance, known as a “gentle and witty introvert.”

“Our decades-long partnership has become a powerful example of how when we work together, we can achieve things once thought impossible,” said Dr. Megan Owen, vice president of conservation science at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “We share a common goal, which is to create a sustainable future for giant pandas.”

This follows recent efforts by senior Biden administration officials to stabilize U.S.-China relations.

In April, the Finance Minister Janet Yellen and secretary of state Antony Blinken The leaders of the two countries visited China respectively and expressed concerns about China’s recent surge in green energy exports and human rights violations in Xinjiang.

Experts on U.S.-China relations applaud the panda’s symbolism but say more progress is still needed on many more important issues.

Eswar Prasad, former head of the China Department of the International Monetary Fund, expressed the hope that cooperation on giant panda protection can lead to more cooperation in areas such as climate change.

“A pair of pandas, as fluffy as they are, will not by themselves ease tensions between China and the United States,” said Prasad, a professor at Cornell University. “However, it would certainly be a healthy sign if the two sides can continue to work together on issues where they share common goals while keeping those issues separate from issues where there is deep-rooted conflict.”

Although giant pandas from China have been allowed to travel to San Diego, flights for U.S. and Chinese tourists are still limited.

“I’m glad that the United States and China can find a way to cooperate or communicate on anything,” said Meg RismereProfessor at Harvard Business School, specializing in the comparative political economics of development, with a focus on China. “I would also like to see more visas and visits for humans.”

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