Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a heartwarming gesture during his meeting with US President Joe Biden, signaling the intention to send new pandas to the United States as a symbol of goodwill and friendship between the two nations.
Speaking at a dinner event with business leaders, President Xi expressed China’s commitment to cooperating with the United States on panda conservation.
“We are ready to continue our cooperation with the United States on panda conservation, and do our best to meet the wishes of the Californians so as to deepen the friendly ties between our two peoples,” Xi stated.
The announcement came after President Xi and President Biden held their first face-to-face meeting in a year, during which they pledged to work towards reducing tensions between the two nations.
While details about the pandas’ arrival were not disclosed, Xi hinted that the next pair of pandas were most likely destined for California, possibly San Diego.
Pandas have long been a symbol of friendship between the United States and China since Beijing gifted a pair of pandas to the National Zoo in Washington in 1972, a gesture that preceded the normalization of bilateral relations.
Subsequently, Beijing loaned pandas to other U.S. zoos, with proceeds from their exhibits contributing to panda conservation programs.
The recent departure of the National Zoo’s three giant pandas, Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their cub Xiao Qi Ji, to China, left only four pandas in the United States, all housed at the Atlanta Zoo.
“I was told that many American people, especially children, were reluctant to say goodbye to the pandas and went to the zoo to see them off,” President Xi mentioned in his speech. He also noted that the San Diego Zoo and the people of California eagerly anticipate the return of pandas.
Panda Diplomacy Revived in Xi’s California Visit
President Xi’s visit to California coincided with the Indo-Pacific summit and his meeting with President Biden. While the pandas were not mentioned in his public remarks earlier in the day, Xi’s commitment to their return is seen as a positive sign of improved bilateral relations.
In recent years, as US-China relations faced challenges, some members of the Chinese public called for the return of giant pandas amid unproven allegations of mistreatment of these beloved creatures in American zoos.
However, relations are stabilizing with the Xi-Biden meeting and renewed cooperation on various fronts.
The exchange agreement between the National Zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association, which oversees panda conservation efforts, had been set to expire in early December, and negotiations to renew or extend the deal had yet to yield results.
The announcement of new pandas being sent to the United States is a heartwarming development in the ongoing story of panda diplomacy between these two nations.
Read Next: Ukraine Arrests Officials on Treason in Giuliani-Related Hunter Biden Case