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PandaGate – Panda Politics

Posted by Don McLenaghen on April 20, 2013

Okay, in part one we talked about what IS a panda…next we shall talk about how pandas have been used for politics.


So, what is panda politics?

It seems that the Chinese have known for a long time that the Pandas have a direct line to the cute centers of the human brain.

To that end, China has used its monopoly of the ‘supply’ of pandas as a way to gain favour with other nations who just can’t resist the monochrome little fuzz balls.

As far back as the 7th century the Chinese emperors had given a pair of pandas to Japan’s ruling class to cement diplomatic ties.

The modern practice arose after the Chinese Civil War. From 1958 to 1984, China gave away 28 pandas to 8 countries. The first was the Soviet Union in 1958, North Korea received several over the next decade.

nixon-and-maoThe most famous give though went to the most hated Politician in the US after George Bush…maybe Obama…if Fox News is correct. No, the most hated politician (not one of the two impeached – Johnson & Clinton) was Nixon (he quit before he was impeached).

Yes, when Nixon went to Communist China to open diplomatic relations, the Communist Government gave him the most famous pair of pandas Ling Ling and tSing tSing.

8-1972-04-26To help grow ties with the “West”…acknowledging China although communist has always had a love/hate relationship with the Soviet Union. So after the Americans got their pandas in 1972, Japan, Germany, France and the UK also got some.

After 1982, China changed from giving Pandas to loaning them.

The terms of the loan was for 10 years at a cost of $1 million a year (for a pair)…so the Chinese government earns 10 million for loaning the pandas to Canada. As well of course the host nations must still provide room and accommodation for the ‘guests’.

Room and board, paid for by the Toronto Zoo, is 8 million for the house and 2 million a year for ‘board’ and maintenance.

540012_4195351334705_1711239485_nIn the US, fears that the Chinese government was simply pimping its pandas led to a lawsuit by the World Wildlife Fund resulting in a US law stating that if the US hosted pandas at least half of the money paid would go towards panda conservation.

It is now assumed that the 10 million goes to Panda Conservation in China.

Now, there are current politics involved. In 1998 China offered 2 pandas to Taiwan but Taiwan rejected them when China responded to the CITES that the transfer was a domestic activity and not international.

Oh yes, CITES stands for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and is the body responsible for policing the various endangered animal treaties.

ChinaTaiwanAnyway, Taiwan considers itself an independent nation, while mainland China has always considered it a wayward province. So, Taiwan rejected the panda twice…in 1998 and again in 2005.

In 2008, after a political change in Taiwan to a pro-China Government, the offer of the pandas was accepted.

pvp20030105But even then, when CITES stated it considered the transfer an ‘internal matter” and thus did not fall under its jurisdiction, the Taiwanese government quickly issued a rebuttal to CITES and stated that they had followed all the regulations required when endangered animals are moved from one nation to ANOTHER nation.

So, Pandas are both cute (in their looks) and fuzzy (in their politics). In the past there was an implicit ‘tit-for-tat’ wherever China ‘gifted’ a Panda to a nation…that Pandas were seen as a reward to ‘services rendered’ to the state of China. This leads into my next post, why did we get a pair of Pandas?





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