Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: China’s first-ever ‘panda diplomacy’ in Middle East

With the 2022 World Cup just about a month away, two giant pandas from China arrived in Qatar and will spend the foreseeable future living in an enclosed environment designed to mimic their natural environment. According to the Associated Press, China will fly 800kg of fresh bamboo to Qatar every week to feed the two bears. While the bears arrived at the World Cup’s host nation in part to facilitate research, it is an overt example of “panda diplomacy” in which China sends the iconic bears to foreign countries to strengthen bilateral ties. (https://www.scmp.com/news/people-culture/trending-china/article/3196457/two-giant-chinese-pandas-en-route-qatar-first-ever-panda-diplomacy-middle-east-ahead-years-world-cup) One of the pandas is a three-year-old female named Si Hai, while the other is a four-year-old male named Jing Jing. However, now that they have arrived in Qatar, the male will be renamed Suhail and the female Soraya – both are Arabic names. The transfer of the pandas represent the first example of “panda diplomacy” in the Middle East, according to state-run newswire Xinhua.

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