The Panda Diplomacy Hits Berlin

The third pillar of German foreign policy

July 06th, 2017
David Schwengler, News from Berlin
2017_07_06 Panda Germany.jpg

Last Wednesday, the Chancellor of Germany the President of the People’s Republic of China inaugurated the Panda’s brand-new enclosure at the Berliner Zoo.

The two newcomers are named Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, a male and a female. Everything is made to make them comfortable in their new home that cost 10 million euros. The objective is to make sure they will be able to have babies. Indeed, Giant Pandas from China are threatened of extinguishment due to the continuing habitat loss and to their natural very low birth-rate. Actually, Berlin already hosted one named Bao Bao in 1980, but he passed away in 2012 at the considerable age of 34.

To receive Giant Pandas from China is a highly symbolic act as only a dozen of other countries throughout the World had the chance to welcome Giant Pandas from China. The precious animal is a national symbol for China and it is a privilege for Germany to host two Giant Pandas, it is a sign of trusteeship from China and that the relations between the two States are good. Thus, it is a strong message that is sent just before the G20 Summit which is happening this weekend in Hamburg.

The symbolic meaning of this event is the reason why we name it the “Panda Diplomacy”.  This practice has a long history as it dates as far back as the Tang Dynasty, when Empress Wu Zetian (624-705) gave a pair of Pandas to Japan’s emperor. After World War II it was a way for the communist regime to open new diplomatic relations. The most iconic case is perhaps when the United States received two pandas in 1972. Therefore, the panda diplomacy is a sign of openness and good relations.


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