Panda diplomacy: China promises new ‘adorable’ pandas to replace Australia’s popular pair

China has announced that it will provide Australia with a new pair of giant pandas to replace Australia’s popular pair Wang Wang and Fu Ni, who have been residing at the Adelaide Zoo since 2009. The decision was made after the current pair failed to produce offspring during their 15-year stay in Australia, despite efforts such as artificial insemination.
Premier Li Qiang, during his visit to Australia, said that the new pandas will be “equally beautiful, lovely and adorable” and will arrive as soon as possible.
The announcement comes amidst foreign minister Penny Wong’s efforts to improve Australia’s relationship with China, following a period of diplomatic tension with the previous conservative government. Li acknowledged Wong’s reminders about the expiring panda loan agreement during her visit to Beijing in November 2020, suggesting that the decision was made to fulfil the wishes of the minister.
Wong, who hails from Adelaide, expressed her gratitude for the gesture and highlighted its positive impact on the economy, jobs, and tourism in South Australia.
Australia-China relations ‘back on track’
Chinese Premier Li Qiang arrived in Australia on Saturday, marking the first visit by a Chinese premier to the country in seven years. As reported by the Chinese embassy, Li stated upon his arrival at the Adelaide airport that the relationship between China and Australia was “back on track”.
During his visit, Li underscored Australia’s unique position in connecting the Western and Eastern worlds. He also emphasized the nation’s significant role as a key driver of economic globalization and a vital contributor to a multipolar world order. Li’s trip to Australia is anticipated to set the stage for President Xi Jinping’s inaugural visit to the country since 2014.
Panda diplomacy
Giant pandas, although no longer classified as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 2016, still face significant threats due to habitat loss and fragmentation.
According to the environmental group WWF, there are an estimated 1,860 giant pandas remaining in the wild. The global preservation scheme, which involves loaning pandas to zoos around the world, not only contributes to conservation efforts but also serves as a tool of “panda diplomacy” for China.

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