China to bestow ‘panda diplomacy’ on Singapore

November 12, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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AFP

China will send two pandas to Singapore to mark next year’s 20th anniversary of bilateral relations in the latest example of Beijing’s “panda diplomacy”, the city-state’s zoo operator said Wednesday.

China will send two pandas to Singapore to mark next year’s 20th anniversary of bilateral relations in the latest example of Beijing’s “panda diplomacy”, the city-state’s zoo operator said Wednesday.

The announcement was made Wednesday evening by President Hu Jintao during a meeting with Singapore President S. R. Nathan, Wildlife Reserves Singapore said in a statement.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore is the government-controlled operator of the city-state’s acclaimed zoo and other wildlife attractions.

It said the pandas, a male and female, would arrive in 2011 — a year after the 20th anniversary — and be housed at River Safari, a new attraction being built.

They will be loaned to Singapore for 10 years, a spokeswoman for the zoo operator told AFP.

Officials with the Chinese delegation to an Asia-Pacific leaders meeting being hosted by Singapore, which Hu will attend, were not immediately able to confirm the statement.

China has used panda diplomacy worldwide since the days of the Cold War, most famously when it helped cement a rapprochement with the United States in the early 1970s by sending a pair of the animals.

More recently, it sent a pair of pandas to Taiwan late last year amid a thaw in relations between mainland China and the self-ruled island, which split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

China normally demands enormous fees for its pandas.

The statement said the panda enclosure in hot and humid Singapore would be climate-controlled to approximate the cooler climes of mountainous southwestern China, the animals’ natural habitat.

http://news.malaysia.msn.com/regional/article.aspx?cp-documentid=3700455