San Francisco, AP – In a gesture aimed at strengthening the bond between China and the United States, Chinese President Xi Jinping has announced that new pandas will be sent to the U.S. These pandas, according to Xi, serve as “envoys of friendship between the Chinese and American peoples.”
During a dinner speech with business leaders, President Xi expressed China’s commitment to continuing cooperation with the United States on panda conservation. He also emphasized their desire to meet the wishes of Californians and further deepen the friendly ties between the two nations.
While President Xi did not provide specific details regarding when or where the pandas will be sent, he did suggest that California, particularly San Diego, is a likely destination for the next pair of pandas.
Pandas have long been symbolic of the U.S.-China friendship ever since Beijing presented a pair of these beloved creatures to the National Zoo in Washington in 1972, a gesture that preceded the normalization of bilateral relations. Since then, Beijing has loaned pandas to various U.S. zoos, with proceeds contributing to panda conservation programs.
In recent news, the National Zoo bid farewell to three of its giant pandas, Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their cub Xiao Qi Ji, as they began their journey to China eight days ago. With their departure, only four pandas remain in the United States, all located in the Atlanta Zoo.
Pandas Bid Farewell to the United States
Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his understanding of the emotional attachment that many Americans, particularly children, had developed towards pandas. He acknowledged that people in California, particularly at the San Diego Zoo, were eagerly anticipating the return of the beloved bears.
President Xi’s remarks were made during his visit to California, where he was attending a summit with Indo-Pacific leaders and meeting with President Biden. Interestingly, he did not mention the pandas during his initial public remarks while meeting with Biden earlier in the day.
In recent years, as bilateral relations between China and the United States experienced tensions, there was a growing demand from the Chinese public for the repatriation of the giant pandas. Social media platforms in China were inundated with unverified claims of mistreatment suffered by these treasured national symbols while in American zoos.
However, with President Xi’s visit to San Francisco for his meeting with President Biden, there are promising signs of stabilization and improving relations. The two leaders spent approximately four hours together at the charming Filoli Historic House & Garden, reaching agreements on various issues, including anti-narcotics collaboration and enhanced military communications. Additionally, they expressed a mutual desire to expand people-to-people exchanges.
The National Zoo’s exchange agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, which was due to expire in early December, failed to yield any results during negotiations for renewal or extension.