Panda Diplomacy? Unraveling the Surprising Trend
Panda Diplomacy? Unraveling the Surprising Trend
  • Kim Na-hyun
  • 승인 2024.03.25 12:07
  • 댓글 0
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(Provided by Unsplash)
(Provided by Unsplash)

  In 2023, the giant panda Fu Bao became a major sensation in Korea. The number of visits to ‘Bao House’ in Everland had doubled compared to the previous year due to Fu Bao’s imminent return to China. Pop-up stores appeared and photo essays were published in response to its popularity. These activities are not limited to Korea. Xing Xing and Jing Jing are giant pandas in Malaysia. They came to celebrate the 40th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties with China. As they are set to return to China, discussions about extending their stay in Malaysia are ongoing.
  China has owned these pandas for a long time. We can see pandas in our own country because they are leased from China for a specific period in a practice called ‘Panda Diplomacy.’
  It originated during the Sino-Japanese War in 1941. The former president of Taiwan presented a pair of pandas to the U.S. After around 30 years, China gave birth to two pandas, and China and the U.S. established diplomatic relations. They were symbols of friendly relations. Then, in 1975, the ‘Endangered Species International Dealings Agreement’ was formed. According to the agreement, the gift of pandas shifted to a rental system. 
  The one-year rental fee for pandas is around 1.3 billion won. A panda baby born under the rental agreement in any country must return to China within four years. These rental conditions include diplomatic ties with China, the zoo environment, reputation, and breeding capacity.
Soft power is influencing others’ behavior to achieve desired results. It is characterized by the fact that it is achieved voluntarily rather than by force. In 2023, China ranked fifth in terms of soft power.

  China’s ambassador, Wang Wenbin, stated, “Since Fu Bao was born, she has been greatly loved by Koreans. She has positively affected increasing friendship between China and Korea.” In Malaysia, due to the strong friendship with China, extending the stay period is a positive consideration. 

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