Curious about how China uses pandas to reward and to punish? The Financial Times published an extensive article on panda diplomacy in 2017:
Great illustrations and timelines. Trade a lot with China? Get a panda.
Writing in the LA Times, Robyn Dixon discusses the importance of preparing pandas for the wild. The panda preserve in Chengdu does not know if its latest attempt has succeeded. Earlier attempts with males have not fared well. As one scientist explains, it took 50 years to learn how to too get pandas to reproduce in captivity. It may be another 50 years before they learn how to facilitate it in the wild. Fascinating report.
First and foremost, this article taught me that China does not give pandas to other countries, instead they allow us to lease them for a number of years. The number of years is usually worked out between the Chinese and the recipient government, but one factor remains the same for all countries -- each loaned panda comes at the hefty price of $1 million dollars per year.
China first became to realize that they could use the gifting of pandas to foreign countries as a way to exert soft power over countries that they wished to established political relationships with. Interestingly enough, this article discusses the gifting of a panda cub to his hopeful mother- Angela Merkel, leader of Germany. This gift from China was anything but altruistic, as China hopes to cement a relationship with Merkel as the new face of the Western world.
In my opinion, it is interesting to see how China has began to use an animal on the endangered specie list as a form of soft power. China has more than doubled the number of bears in captivity, and scientists begin to worry about the breeding numbers in comparison to the number of bears that live in the wild. As the US continues to lose leverage in the international community under our current leader, it will be fascinating to see how major world powers play politics amongst each other.
With the announcement timed to coincide with Xi Jinping's visit to Rome, Italy announces plans to be the first Western country to issue a panda bonds to raise money for various infrastructure projects.
If you're panda-crazy (and who isn't), you'll like this solar farm designed to look like a panda:
Here's the plan: