China-US relations: in turbulent times a Miracle baby panda is bringing nations together, says ambassador

27-Nov-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A three-month-old panda cub newly dubbed “Miracle” was helping bring the people of China and the United States together, said the Chinese ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai.

The panda was born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington and has been officially named Xiao Qi Ji, which is Mandarin for “Little Miracle”.

Giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji is pictured at the Washington zoo this month. Photo: Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji is pictured at the Washington zoo this month. Photo: Smithsonian’s National Zoo

In a short video posted on Cui’s official Twitter account on Tuesday, the Chinese ambassador called the baby panda “a true miracle” that had been “uplifting to all of us” during the pandemic.

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“Both our American friends and people back in China are caring about him… We are connected again with the growth of our little ambassador,” Cui said in the minute-long video.

The cub was born in August to mother Mei Xiang and father Tian Tian. The pair was sent from China to the US in 2000.

Xiao Qi Ji has had an early start in public relations. His birth was live-streamed and his growth over the three months has been viewed by over 1 million people through the zoo’s live-stream camera.

Even his name, which was confirmed on Monday, was the result of a five-day online poll that drew nearly 135,000 voters to choose between Chinese names.

All cubs born at the zoo move to China when they are four years old under a partnership contract in which China owns the pandas.

China’s moves to send the endangered species to foreign zoos have been dubbed “panda diplomacy”.

Fewer than 2,000 giant pandas still live in their natural habitat in China, while some 600 more live in zoos and breeding centres around the world, according to the Washington zoo.

The communist Chinese government started using pandas as goodwill ambassadors in the 1950s. Two pandas were first sent to the US in 1972, soon after then-president Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China.



Category: China

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