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Saturday, 22 February 2014

Panda diplomacy - what is it?

There are very mixed feelings in Belgium right now as the country gets ready to welcome two giant pandas from China.


The arrival of  Xing Hui and Hao Hao has caused a bit of a stir because they're set to live in a zoo in the south of the country.

Why is that controversial?

Belgium is roughly split into two parts - the Dutch-speaking areas in the north and the French-speaking areas in the south.
Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo is a French-speaker and he lives in the south.
He chose to let the pandas live in Pairi Daiza park, which is a zoo in the south of the country, which many people said was unfair.
The prime minister has dismissed the claims, saying the Antwerp Zoo in the north, had made no official request to house the animals.
The whole idea of pandas as gifts is known as 'panda diplomacy' and it has a long tradition in China.
Dr Paul Jepson is a conservation expert from the University of Oxford who's researched panda diplomacy. He answered some questions for us…

Xing Hui and Hao Hao are a gift from the authorities in China to celebrate good relations between the two countries.

What is panda diplomacy?

Pandas are native to China and they're seen as a national treasure of China; all living pandas, wherever they might be, are the property of the Chinese state.
Panda diplomacy describes how the Chinese authorities let chosen governments keep pandas as a mark of respect between their countries.
Having a panda can really boost the status of a zoo, as Edinburgh Zoo has seen since Tian Tian arrived in 2011.
From CBBC newsround

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