People frequently think of the panda when they think about China. They are regarded as a sign of friendliness and harmony in China. The panda has an important cultural and historical significance in China. The panda was depicted as an unbeatable animal, as strong as a tiger, in the Shangshu (a recorded history of the Xizhou Dynasty, 1027-771 BC).
A panda’s fur is worn as a tribute to monarchs and emperors. During that time, pelt was frequently distributed. The panda was supposed to have medicinal properties during the Ming era. The pelt is said to be capable of repelling plague and preventing cancers.
The Significance of the Panda
There has been a lot of talk about the panda in the media. If you pay attention to the news, you’ll hear about pandas everywhere, from their near-extinction to the birth of baby pandas. Pandas are becoming increasingly well-known, having been featured in films and serving as the Olympic mascot. You might wonder why pandas are so significant. Pandas have become a symbol of China and play an important role in Chinese culture. Pandas are considered as fighters by the Chinese people due to the qualities they possess. Pandas can find food, climb trees, and survive freezing weather.
Pandas have even been compared to tigers in terms of strength. This demonstrates that they are tough, like warriors, and China wishes to be seen in the same way. Because pandas have a kind nature and aren’t renowned for assaulting others, the panda symbolizes peace and friendship in addition to strength. In addition, the panda’s black and white coloring is considered as a physical depiction of Yin and Yang, and how its balance brings about harmony and tranquility.
Furthermore, pandas are important to the Chinese people because they are seen as neighbors, as both Chinese people and pandas once lived in China. The panda appears in many works of literature. This animal is also thought to have anti-evil spirit abilities. As a result, news of pandas being born excite the Chinese, as the panda has a great historical and cultural significance in China.
China’s Panda Diplomacy
China began its ‘panda diplomacy’ with the United States of America fifty years ago. It began in 1972, during then-President Richard Nixon’s visit to China, when Mao Zedong promised to transfer two pandas to an American zoo. With the Soviet Union, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the United Kingdom, China has regularly employed this technique as a diplomatic tool.
A closer look of ‘panda diplomacy’ is as follows:
In diplomatic practice, gift-giving is fairly common. Animals have historically been associated with the most famous diplomatic gifts, particularly where they have a special national importance. Cuteness is also important when it comes to gaining hearts and minds. Another prominent example is Australian koalas, which are also employed for diplomatic purposes.
When it comes to pandas, Tang Dynasty records date the practice back to the 7th Century, when Empress Wu Zetian is said to have gifted the Japanese court with two “bear-like monsters,” which were later identified as pandas.
Ping Ping was given to the Soviet Union by China in 1957 as a present for being the first to establish diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China. An An, a second giant panda, was given as Ping Ping’s pair just two years later. Experts say the animals serve as goodwill ambassadors and help to soften the country’s authoritarian image and divert attention away from the country’s report on human rights violations.
As previously stated, the first instance of panda diplomacy with the United States took place in 1972 during Nixon’s visit to Beijing, when America acquired its first giant panda pair, Hsing Hsing and Ling Ling. Nixon’s gift of two musk oxen to Beijing was partially returned by Nixon’s high-profile diplomatic reconciliation gesture.
From gifting to loaning
When the Chinese government realized their panda population was declining in the 1980s, they switched from gifting pandas to loaning them to countries all over the world.
This strategy was not only beneficial to diplomacy, but it was also financially beneficial. Pandas were loaned to the host country on a 10-year renewable basis at a high expense.
According to estimates, host countries must not only meet stringent requirements for panda care and housing, but also pay up to $1 million per year to do so. Any panda babies born within the loan period will be charged an additional hefty price.