Last month, China News happily reported that a giant panda named Feng gave birth at the National Zoo of Malaysia.
Some say that Malaysia would be better off without the new panda cub. Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar explained to The Sun Daily that for each panda that is born in the National Zoo of Malaysia, the country must pay 600,000 USD within 12 months to China and then return the cub to the PRC after 2 years. All together, around 18 countries have been given pandas by China and each of the nations face similar charges every time their pandas successfully mate.
“Even to name the panda cub, we need China’s approval as per the agreement,” minister Wan Junaidi added.
Due to the MH370 disaster, the pandas were actually delayed in arriving to Malaysia. The two giant pandas only arrived in Malaysia last year, but it would seem they have settled in rather well. Malaysia gave the pandas new (approved) names as a welcoming gesture. The male Fu Wa was renamed Xing Xing meaning “prosperity,” and the female Feng Yi became known as Liang Liang meaning “pretty.”
Their arrival coincided with the Malaysian national zoo’s 50th anniversary and the event was headlined by the opening of the Giant Panda Conservation and Exhibition Center. The event also happened to correspond with the commemoration of 40 years of good relations between China and Malaysia.
The cost of maintaining a panda is nearly 10,000 USD per month, a hefty price to pay for adorableness and diplomatic allegiance. It cost a further 4 million USD to build the conservation center in the zoo. Some say that by successfully managing to mate the apathetic creatures, a nation improves its relations with China, and that is almost priceless. Trade between Malaysia and the PRC added up to 106 billion USD during 2014.
Panda Diplomacy is said to have begun during the Tang dynasty when Empress Wu Zetian gifted a panda-couple to the Japanese emperor. The practice was resurrected by Mao Zedong in the 1950s, and since then pandas have been used to strengthen diplomatic ties between the PRC and the Soviet Union, North Korea, USA, Canada, Japan, France, UK, Germany, Mexico, Taiwan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Spain, Austria, Singapore and Belgium. There was pandemonium in 2010 after one of China’s prized possessions died at Oji zoo in Kobe, Japan.
by Daniel Cunningham