Panda Diplomacy Makes Tensions With China Bearable

Dec 2, 2013 3:54pm

The U.S. and China have their differences at the moment, foremost among them China’s recently announced air-defense identification zone  over the East China Sea, which was recently challenged by a flight of U.S. bombers.

But amid those tensions, the two countries’ first ladies engaged in the latest iteration of panda diplomacy over the weekend, each welcoming the National Zoo’s newly named panda cub, Bao Bao, in videos posted on the zoo’s YouTube channel.

Read more: China’s Newly Declared Air Defense Zone Fuels Tensions in Asia

Michelle Obama gushed panda praise, noting the presence of pandas in the National Zoo as “a symbol of the growing connections between our two countries.” Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan hailed the young panda as a “testament to the closeness the Chinese and Americans feel at heart,” according to subtitles.

At 100 days old, Bao Bao was given her name on Sunday after the National Zoo held a public vote on what to call her.

Panda Diplomacy–goodwill gifts of its most prized animals–is something China has done since the Tang Dynasty. China presented President Nixon with Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing, America’s first celebrity panda couple, in 1972.

Read more: Panda Diplomacy: Un-Bearable Wait. Is Mei Xiang Pregnant?

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