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Diplomats and Refugees: Panda Diplomacy, Soft "Cuddly" Power, and the New Trajectory in Panda Conservation


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China's practice of gifting and loaning giant pandas has been given new impetus as a result of damage to panda-conservation facilities caused by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and China's rise as an economic power. We suggest that a new, third phase of panda diplomacy is under way that is distinct from the previous two. Phase 1 during the Mao era (in the 1960s and 1970s) took the form of China gifting pandas to build strategic friendships. Phase 2 followed Deng Xiaoping's rise to power in 1978 when gifts became gift loans involving a capitalist lease model based on financial transactions. In the emerging phase 3, panda loans are associated with nations supplying China with valuable resources and technology and symbolize China's willingness to build guanxi-namely, deep trade relationships characterized by trust, reciprocity, loyalty, and longevity. Notable is the correlation of guanxi loan deals with nations supplying resources and technologies to China in the aftermath of the 2008 earthquake in panda habitat. As captive breeding resumes with the completion of repairs to the earthquake-damaged Wolong Breeding center, we predict that panda diplomacy will increase and that panda conservation, more than ever, will be the outcome of a complex, dynamic interplay among politics, markets, and conservation science.
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Diplomats and Refugees: Panda
Diplomacy, Soft “Cuddly”
Power, and the New Trajectory
in Panda Conservation
Kathleen Carmel Buckingham, Jonathan
Neil William David, and Paul Jepson
China’s practice of gifting and loaning giant pandas has been
given new impetus as a result of damage to panda-
conservation facilities caused by the 2008 Sichuan earth-
quake and China’s rise as an economic power. We suggest
that a new, third phase of panda diplomacy is under way that
is distinct from the previous two. Phase 1 during the Mao era
(in the 1960s and 1970s) took the form of China gifting
pandas to build strategic friendships. Phase 2 followed Deng
Xiaoping’s rise to power in 1978 when gifts became gift
loans involving a capitalist lease model based on financial
transactions. In the emerging phase 3, panda loans are
associated with nations supplying China with valuable re-
sources and technology and symbolize China’s willingness to
build guanxi—namely, deep trade relationships character-
ized by trust, reciprocity, loyalty, and longevity. Notable is
the correlation of guanxi loan deals with nations supplying
resources and technologies to China in the aftermath of the
2008 earthquake in panda habitat. As captive breeding re-
sumes with the completion of repairs to the earthquake-
damaged Wolong Breeding center, we predict that panda
diplomacy will increase and that panda conservation, more
than ever, will be the outcome of a complex, dynamic
interplay among politics, markets, and conservation science.
Environmental Practice Page 1 of 9
he giant pandas Ailuropoda melanoleuca status as a
flagship species in wildlife conservation is well known.
Panda imagery is invoked as a means to raise public and
political support for international conservation policy and
action. In parallel, the panda has been actively positioned
as an emblem of the Chinese nation. The confluence of
these conservationist and nationalistic log ics has stimu-
lated the practice of panda diplomacy, a term coined dur-
ing the Cold War ~19461991!, when China gifted pandas to
foreign governments with which it sought strategic friend-
ships ~Randall, 2011!.Thevalue of pandas in international
relationships is a product of the interplay of their unique
phenotypic and ecological traits, their emblematic roles,
the scientific and practical challenges associated with their
conservation, and Chinese national and foreign policy. In
this article, we present an integrated analysis of panda
diplomacy. We suggest that the practice has been g iven new
impetus by a combination of impacts of the 2008 Sichuan
earthquake on panda facilities and Chinas rise as a world
economic power linked to their model of state-controlled
The habitat of the giant panda is now restricted to six
mountain ranges in southwestern China ~Xu et al., 2006!.
Recent official estimates put the wild population at 1,600
~World Wildlife Fund, 2013! and the captive population at
333 ~Ruane, 2012!. Wild populations are threatened by hab-
itat fragmentation and disturbance caused by hig hway and
dam developments, plantation forestry, and tourism ~Zheng
et al., 2012!. For decades, panda conservation has faced
major challenges because of the species’ specialist and in-
flexible dietary, reproductive, and habitat traits: bamboo
constitutes 99% of panda diets; females are fertile for only
13 days annually, and the courting ritual involves chasing
each other over large distances ~Peng et al., 2007!, and the
species is solitary and occupies relatively large territories of
3.96.4 km
~Schaller et al., 1985!. As a result, pandas are
Affiliation of authors: Kathleen Carmel Buckingham, PhD,
School of
Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, United
Kingdom. Jonathan Neil William David, DPhil candidate, School of Ge-
ography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, United
Kingdom. Paul Jepson, PhD, MSc Course Director, School of Geography
and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Address correspondence to: Kathleen Carmel Buckingham, University
of Oxford, School of Geography and the Environment, South Parks Road,
Oxford OX13QY, United Kingdom; ~e-mail! kathleenbuckingham@
© National Association of Environmental Professionals 2013
Diplomats and Refugees 1
both notoriously difficult to breed in captivity and vulner-
able to natural events: in 1970 and 1983, mass-bamboo
flowering caused starvation and heightened mortality in
some populations ~Schaller, 1994!.The2008 Sichuan earth-
quake caused landslides and widespread damage to panda
Phase 1 Panda Diplomacy: Building
Strategic Alliances in the Mao Era
Panda diplomacy has a long histor y: in the Tang dynasty
~624705!, two pandas were presented to the Japanese ~Watts,
2007!. However, modern panda diplomacy began in the
late 1950s as part of a foreign-policy strategy of Chairman
Mao Zedong. In brief, the Chinese Communist Party per-
ceived the USSR as its militant revolutionary rival and the
United States ~US! as its major ideological adversary. Rather
than fighting “with both fists” ~Scott, 2007!, Chairman
Mao hoped that by opening up to both these two super-
powers, they would recognize Chinas emerging position
and create a triangular power balance, thereby preventing
violent conflict ~Scobell, 2007!. Living pandas had huge
popular appeal outside China. The 1936 ar rival of Su Lin in
the US ~brought back by explorer Ruth Harkness! had
been a public sensation ~Nicholls, 2010!, and Chi Chi,
acquired by London Zoo from an animal dealer in 1958,
became one of the best-loved zoo animals ever: it was the
inspiration for the famous logo of the World Wildlife Fund
~WWF, founded in 1961!.
Recognizing the diplomatic value of the panda’s superstar
qualities, the People’s Republic of China ~PRC! began gift-
ing them as part of strategic friend making. The first gifts
were in 1965 to President Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet
Union and Kim Il-Sung of the Democratic Peoples Re-
public of Korea ~DPRK!, commonly known as North Korea
~Sina, 2011!. Subsequently, Chairman Mao presented US
President Richard Nixon and UK Premier Edward Heath
with pairs of pandas during their historic state visits to
China in 1972 and 1974, respectively ~McGeown, 2005!.In
all, China gifted 24 pandas as goodwill ambassadors” to
nine nations during 19571983 ~Schaller, 1994!.
Public interest in the possibility of breeding these panda
gifts in Moscow, Washington, DC, and London served to
further enhance the symbolic role of pandas in inter-
national relations. The rarit y of pandas outside China ne-
cessitated exchanges between zoos located across ideological
divides, notably between London and Moscow, and the
difficulty of inducing captive pandas to mate ~and repeated
provided the popular media with a rich source of
satirical cartoons and nationalist puns—for example, the
James Bond movie–inspired From Russia—without Love
~Nicholls, 2010!. This blend of cuteness, incompetence in
love, and nationalistic banter, combined with its assign-
ment as the emblem of international conservation, served
to make the panda a cultural animal icon in the West. This
together with the opening up of relations between China
and the West prompted the logic that, if the WWF had the
panda as its logo, it should also have field projects con-
cerned with its survival. Through fortuitous connections
and after difficult negotiations, the WWF and the Chinese
State Forestry Administration embarked on a collaborative
conservation project involving the building and equipping
of the Wolong research center and systematic research on
panda-species biology ~O’Brien, Wenshi, and Zhi, 1994;
Schaller, 1994!.
Phase 2 Panda Diplomacy: State-Controlled
Capitalist Gift Loans
Following Deng Xiaoping’s rise to power in 1978, China
embarked on a program of economic reforms leading to
state-led capitalism characterized by an open-door pol-
icy” ~to Western investment! and the creation of special
economic zones adopting capitalist principles ~Sung, 1991!.
Such principles were extended to pandas and after 1984
gifts became gift loans involving a capitalist lease model
based on financial transactions ~Sina, 2011!. The purpose of
panda diplomacy moved from a n emphasis on geopolitics
to a focus on markets: prestigious zoos in nations seen as
important markets for Chinese products were offered the
opportunity to lease pandas for six-figure sums plus a
percentage of merchandising sales ~Peddie, 2010!.
This phase commenced in 1984 @the same year the Inter-
national Union for Conser vation of Nature listed the giant
panda as an endangered species ~Imbriaco, 2006!# when
China presented two pandas to Los Angeles Zoo during the
city’s hosting of the Olympic Games. This deal prompted
“vigorous jostling by North American and European Zoos
to obtain pandas for exhibition ~Schaller, 1994,p.235!.
Between 1984 and 1987, pandas were leased to eight zoos
for a fee of US$50,000 per month per panda ~Imbriaco,
2006!. This rent-a-panda program became the subject of
intense controversies ~Schaller, 1994!. Besides animal-
welfare concerns, conservationists objected because the Con-
vention of International Trade in Endangered Species
legislated that, as an Appendix 1 listed species, trade in
pandas should be permitted for only scientific pur poses
2 Environmental Practice
and/or to enhance propagation and survival of the species.
To meet the latter criteria, Chinese authorities abandoned
short-term loans in 1991 in favor of a system, proposed by
both Chinese and Western conserv ationists, of long-term
loans ~to allow breeding!, with lease fees being used to
finance implementation of a giant panda management plan
that was published by the WWF in 1991 and approved by
the Chinese Forest Administration in 1993 ~O’Brien, Wen-
shi, and Zhi, 1994!.
Phase 3 Panda Diplomacy: Building Guanxi
and Trade Relations after the 2008
It seems that the 2008 Sichuan earthquake created an im-
petus for a third phase of panda diplomacy. This Richter-
scale-8 quake permanently destroyed an estimated 5.9%
~656 km
! of panda habitat and affected 67% of panda
habitat overall ~Ouyang et al., 2008; Zheng et al., 2012!.
Damage in Sichuan Province, the focus of panda-conservation
activities, was sig nificant: 23% ~354 km
! of panda habitat
was damaged, including 249 km
inside nature reserves.
Adding to this setback, the quake hit during the 24-to
72-hour window each spring when female pandas are fer-
tile. It is assumed that recruitment to the wild and captive
populations was interrupted ~Ang, 2008!. Significantly, the
Wolong Nature Reserve and Breeding Center was badly
damaged, and all of the center’s 60 pandas required rehous-
ing. The majority were moved initially to the Ya’an Conser-
vation Center in Bifengxia National Reserve ~280 km away!.
However, the center’s limited facilities and the limited ca-
pacity elsewhere in China to house these “refugee pandas
with their complex husbandry requirements represented
something of a crisis for Chinese authorities ~Xinhua, 2011!.
Repairs to the Wolong nature reserve were expected to take
at least four years @scheduled for completion by the end of
2012 ~Xinhua, 2008! but still ongoing# and expanding panda
loans represented both a lucrative source of funds to assist
the rebuilding and development of the Wolong center and
a partial solution to the housing problem.
One response was to extend existing gift loans due to
expire in 2010, 2015, and 2013 with two US zoos and one
Thai zoo, respectively, after which the pandas would have
been returned to China ~Pattaya Daily News, 2011; Trindle,
2011; Zabarenko, 2011!. A second response was to offer
panda gift-loans to a new group of nations with which
China was negotiating important trade agreements. Japan
received a pair in March 2011 ~Japan Today, 2011!, Scotland
their first pair in December 2011, and Canada a pair in 2011,
with France ~Telegraph, 2012! and Singapore receiving a
pair each in 2012 ~AsiaOne, 2012!. Loan deals are also under
discussion with Malaysia and New Zealand ~Burgess, 2010b;
Chen, 2008!. Two patterns are discernible in these recent
panda transactions: first they involve close Asian neighbor
nations that have signed free-trade agreements with China
since 2009 ~Table 1
!, and second they involve nations sup-
plying China with natural resources and advanced tech-
nologies ~Table 2!.
In the case of Edinburgh, Scotland, the panda loan deal
was overseen by Chinas deputy premier while negotiating
contracts valued at £2.6 billion ~US$4.0 billion! for the
supply to China of salmon meat, Land Rover cars, and
petrochemical and renewable energy technology ~BBC, 2011;
Hui, 2011!. Significantly, Norway had supplied China with
salmon for two decades until relations between the two
nations became strained following the award of the 2010
Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
Tabl e 1. China free-trade agreements ~FTAs! and panda status
Agreement Year came into effect Panda gift loan Year FTA ag reed Status
ASEAN–China Free-Trade Area
January 1, 2010 Thailand
2009 Extended 2010
Arrived 2012
Expected 2014
China–New Zealand January 1, 2009 2008 Pandas not yet arrived
China–Singapore January 1, 2009* 2008 Arrived November 2012
China–Macao October 1, 2009 2009
Arrived December 2010
Association of Southeast Asian
*Agence France-Presse ~2008!
Diplomats and Refugees 3
The Canada panda loan coincides with another significant
portfolio of long-term contracts to supply China with ura-
nium oxide ~until 2025!~World Nuclear News, 2010!, the
US$2.1 billion purchase of oil-sands producer Opti Canada
by a Chinese state oil company and the purchase of seal
meat ~MacDonald, 2011; Nor’wester, 2011!. In France, the
panda gift-loan coincides with an estimated US$20 billion
package of deals involving the supply of uranium oxide
and construction of an uranium treatment plant in China
by French nuclear giant Areva and an investment by the
energy giant Total for a Chinese petrochemical plant ~BBC,
2010a!. The link between pandas and uranium in this new
panda diplomacy appears significant. China is embarking
on a major expansion of nuclear power: it has 25 power
plants under construction and is planning a five- or sixfold
increase in nuclear capacity by 2050 ~World Nuclear Asso-
ciation, 2012!. Moreover, Chinas demand for uranium will
overtake domestic supply by 2020. In addition to the afore-
mentioned countries, Australia, which has the world’s larg-
est uranium reserves, has had a panda gift-loan since 2009
~Peddie, 2010!.
This third phase of panda diplomacy is characterized by
panda loans to nations supplying China with valuable re-
sources and technology that are located in few countries.
In our view, such gift-loans can be understood as an ex-
pression of guanxi in bilateral trade arrangements involv-
ing China. Guanxi describes personalized networks of
influence and a depth of relationship where members move
into an inner circle characterized by trust, reciprocity, loy-
alty, and longevity ~Gold, Guthrie, and Wank, 2002!.From
a Chinese perspective, sharing the care of such a precious
animal strengthens these bonds. In short, panda loans are
not simply part of a larger deal; rather, they represent a
“seal” of approval ~or “panda of approval”! and intent for
a long, prosperous working relationship.
The Panda as White Elephant
The term white elephant derives from the old practice,
among Asian sultanates that treated elephants with pale
skin pigmentation as sacred, of gifting such animals to
other favored kingdoms ~Groning and Saller, 1999!.The
obligation to keep these rare, sacred, and resource-
demanding life forms alive and well, so as to honor the
relationship signified by the elephant gift, incurred large
and sometimes r uinous costs. The panda may be the
modern-day white elephant—not quite sacred, but a pow-
erful emblem of the modern Chinese nation and influen-
tial cultural values relating to conservation and animal
welfare. The costs of keeping pandas are substantial: new
panda facilities are estimated to cost Toronto Zoo ~Can-
ada! $14.5 million and Adelaide Zoo ~Australia! $10.3 mil-
lion ~Burgess, 2010a!. Sourcing an adequate bamboo supply
is also a problem for zoos globally; importing bamboo
from Holland will cost Edinburgh Zoo £70,000 ~US$107,000!
per year ~Brown, 2011!, whereas zoos in Berlin, Adelaide,
Washington, DC, and San Diego are seeking to reduce
costs by encouraging citizens to grow bamboo in their
gardens ~Carswell, 2011; NBC, 2009; Scotsman, 2011!.Al-
though panda agreements are signed off at the highest
government level ~Hall, 2011!, the Western model of capi-
talism has commercialized many civic institutions, such as
city zoological parks. Western governments increasingly
see the panda as a commercial asset of a private zoo. For
example, the Scottish Parliament declined a request for
support from Edinburgh Zoo ~Kelbie, 2011!, leading one
director to comment that they were taking a “financial
gamble” ~Macleod, 2011!.
All loan contracts contain fines of $500,000 if a panda dies
and human error is involved ~Stock, 2011!. Moreover, while
it is expected that zoos will make every effort to breed the
pandas ~an expectation shared by host zoos and their pub-
lics!, China assumes ownership of any offspring produced.
Panda guanxi loans are offered only to cities whose zoo
meets a baseline of technical capacity and resources. Being
among the nations with which China trades but does not
potentially deem technically sufficiently developed to re-
ceive a panda places countries such as India, Pakistan,
Tabl e 2. China’s trading partners and panda status
Position Trading partner Date latest panda ar rived
1 United States Two extended, two cubs
repatriated 2010
2 Japan 2011
3 Hong Kong 2007
4 South Korea Sent 1995–1999
5 Taiwan 2008 ~after the earthquake!
6 Germany Sent 1995, died 2007
7 Australia 2009
8 Malaysia Expected 2014
9 Singapore 2012
10 India NA
13 United Kingdom 2012
15 Thailand Extended 2010
No data Canada 2012
France 2012
Source: Wikipedia ~2013!.
4 Environmental Practice
Chile, Peru, and Costa Rica in a different club. Malaysia, as
the third-largest trading partner with China within the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations ~ASEAN!, has re-
portedly been clamoring for a panda deal for some time
~Bernama, 2011; Burgess, 2010b!. In June 2012, Malaysia
finally secured a 10-year panda loan to mark the 40th
anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations in
2014 ~Shagar and Yu, 2013!.
In keeping with the idea of guanxi t rade loans, there are
indications that China approaches them as more than a
purely commercial transaction but also as an avenue to
signal forms of disapproval in bilateral relations. For ex-
ample, two US-born panda cubs that were contractually
due to return to China in 2010 were on a plane to China
two days after the US was warned by China that ties would
be damaged if a meeting between President Barack Obama
and the Dalia Lama went ahead ~Zoncker, 2010!. According
to some observers, the timing of the repatriation was “sig-
nificant” ~Dudding, 2010! not least because these are the
only pandas to be recalled by China since the 2008 Sichuan
earthquake ~BBC, 2010b!. Sensing this connection, New
Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who is currently nego-
tiating a panda deal, commented, “We wouldn’t trade our
views on foreign policy for pandas” ~Dudding, 2010!. ~In-
cidentally, New Zealand is yet to receive pandas.! The panda
loans to France were also delayed until the G20 summit
could resolve the financial crisis in Europe ~Agence France-
Presse, 2011!. Given such indicators, we suggest that if cap-
ital city publics take too enthusiastically to pandas and if
zoos market their superstar attributes without heed to the
wide geopolitical-economic realities, then there is a risk
that the repatriation of a loved city panda could create a
form of sanction that directly affects and speaks to a sig-
nificant proportion of a Western city populous.
Future Directions in Panda Conservation
The subject of soft power is beginning to enter discussion
on Chinas rise as a major world power ~Barr, 2011!. Soft
power involves achieving what you want through attraction
rather than coercion or payments. Culture is an important
aspect of soft power because its adoption by others builds
acceptance and omnipresence. The panda represents a fas-
cinating soft-power resource. Its presence in non-Chinese
zoos involves others in the appreciation and care of a
Chinese national treasure. The panda offers a softer animal
symbol for China compared to those of its past ~notably
the red dragon! and an entry point to documentaries deal-
ing with natural beaut y of the country ~e.g., Wild China,
Over the last decade, the partnership between Chinese and
Western scientists has generated substantial new knowl-
edge about panda behavior, reproductive physiology, en-
docrinolog y, nutrition, genetics, and veterinar y care
~Swaisgood et al., 2011!. Significant advances in captive
breeding have been achieved. Prior to the earthquake, the
Wolong facility was achieving successful natural mating in
nearly all females and two of three males, with cub survival
rates approaching 100% ~Swaisgood et al., 2003!. The next
phase of panda conservation looks set to build upon and
develop new forms of research collaborations with scien-
tists engaged in the developing fields of mammal reintroduc-
tions that house pandas globally, restoration e cology, and
animal geography. The need for adaptive management for
pandas has been advocated by researchers ~Swaisgood et al.,
2011!. To date, when the repairs to Wolong are completed,
we suggest that the breeding program will resume where it
left off and, given the soft-power value of pandas, the
number of guanxi and other forms of panda-loans will
Using pandas as an instrument of soft power will also
make pragmatic management sense, given that techniques
to release captive-bred panda are still in their infancy. Just
10 pandas have been released since 1983, and only two
remain in the wild. Six were recaptured after significant
weight loss, one was found dead with broken ribs and
serious internal injuries ~believed to have been inflicted
by wild pandas!, and another is believed to have died
~Associated Press, 2007!. A new phase of training pandas
for release is under way, and six more are due for release
in enclosed forest in 2013. Pandas are being placed in
more c hallenging high-altitude environments @China Con-
servation and Research Center for the Giant Panda
~CCRCGP!, 2011a#, and communication and contact be-
tween humans and pandas is being restricted to research-
ers wearing panda costumes ~CCRCGP, 2011b!.However,
the aggressively territorial behavior of adult pandas com-
bined with ever-shrinking areas of quality habitat pose
particular reintroduction challenges.
Swaisgood et al. ~2011! advocate the need to adopt princi-
ples of adaptive management in panda conservation. How-
ever, we suggest that, in this endeavor, conservationists
might need to move outside the traditional Western con-
servation frame that assumes the end goal is for wild
animals living in natural habitat. As pandas become more
visible in global zoos, boundaries between wild and captive
Diplomats and Refugees 5
will blur. Late-20th-century visions focused on wild panda
populations and landscape connectivity ~Loucks et al., 2001!
volving panda landscapes characterized by zones of levels
of panda habituation, management, and intervention. The
presence of live pandas in zoos may be extended through
virtual encounters with live pandas in China and real en-
counters for wealthy travelers. The vari ety of encounters
Figure 1. Panda diplomacy stages 13.
6 Environmental Practice
on offer will reflect both the practicalities of reintroduc-
tion and restoration and consumer preferences. Breeding
centers will offer hands-on photo opportunities with highly
habituated pandas ~as was the practice in the Wolong cen-
ter!, and older or injured pandas may roam in enclosures
where visitors can enter and experience an essence of the
wild animals. Other zones may be interface areas between
wild and released pandas with restr icted scientific research,
and the remaining strongholds of wild pandas will become
spaces of high-end photo safaris.
Although the implications for conser v ation are speculative,
the wider environmental consequences are potentially more
fundamental. The star quality of pandas is causing zoos to
embrace a white elephant challenge hidden behind the soft
cuddly power of panda diplomacy. Soft power is an in-
creasingly important topic within global governance ~Nye,
2004!. A nations soft power rests heavily on three basic
resources: its culture, its political values, and its foreign
policies ~Nye, 2011!. Culture is perceived as Chinas new
tool in diplomacy ~Lai, 2012!. Promotion of Chinese cul-
ture is considered a remedy to the “China threat” argu-
ment. In line with the official emphasis on culture as a
source of national power, public diplomacy—especially cul-
tural diplomacy—has become one of the primary tools for
China to develop soft power ~Lai and Lu, 2012!. Behind the
third phase of panda diplomacy lies natural resource deals
that entail serious environmental challenges. For instance,
Scotland is currently weighing the financial rewards against
environmental costs of increasing salmon inputs by 50%to
meet the Chinese demand ~Bullock, 2012! that was agreed
to on the eve of the panda loans. Future panda deals
should be assessed not only on direct conservation capac-
ity within zoos, but considered for the respective “panda of
approval” that seals a deal with broader environmental
In summary, panda conservation operates in a complex,
dynamic interplay between politics, markets, and conser-
vation strategy. Pandas have moved around the world in
three different phases of diplomatic politics ~Figure 1!. This
new phase of panda diplomacy is operating at the conflu-
ence of guanxi trade relations and the imperative to out-
source panda husbandry and r aise reconstruction funds. In
1994, O’Brien, Wenshi, and Zhi argued that endangered
species should never be held ‘hostage’ by politics, and a
successful panda-conservation policy must be totally sep-
arated from politics ~p. 180!. This perspective argues that
such ideals are no longer tenable. The reality is that the
panda is now as much an emblem of the Chinese nation as
it is of the WWF and international conservation. There are
differ enc es between how Chinese and Western cultures frame
the human–nature relationship. A successful panda-
conservation strategy must recognize and bridge these dif-
ferences and their management, policy, and political
The authors thank members of the Conservation Governance Lab within
the School of Geography and the Environment for their contributions to
the development of this article, and in particular Maan Barua, Mari
Mulyani, and Timothy Hodgetts. We are also grateful to Ron Swaisgood
at San Diego Zoo and David Wildt from the Smithsonian Institution for
pointing us toward additional literature, as well as a zookeeper in China
who inspired research in this area.
1. This article was written while Kathleen Buckingham was writing her
DPhil thesis at the University of Oxford. She has since graduated.
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Diplomats and Refugees 9
... Melalui identitas China yaitu panda, China akan mewujudkan representasi atau image nya melalui hewan ini. Menurut Buckingham (2013) bahwa tidak semua negara menerima panda, hal ini dikarenakan China memilih negara yang dipercaya sebagai mitra dan dikategorikan sebagai negara 'guanxi' atau negara yang diberikan kepercayaan oleh China untuk melakukan konservasi panda. Tidak hanya itu, negara yang menurut China berlabel 'guanxi' adalah negara yang memiliki historical trade yang baik dan menguntungkan bagi China (Buckingham, David, & Jepson, 2013). ...
... Menurut Buckingham (2013) bahwa tidak semua negara menerima panda, hal ini dikarenakan China memilih negara yang dipercaya sebagai mitra dan dikategorikan sebagai negara 'guanxi' atau negara yang diberikan kepercayaan oleh China untuk melakukan konservasi panda. Tidak hanya itu, negara yang menurut China berlabel 'guanxi' adalah negara yang memiliki historical trade yang baik dan menguntungkan bagi China (Buckingham, David, & Jepson, 2013). ...
Since the 7th century, China has been giving their endemic animal, Giant Panda, as one of public diplomacy practices also known as Panda Diplomacy. Chinese Panda Diplomacy only applies to countries that have had historical trade and mutual links with China. This research will discuss the Chinese government's effort to implement panda diplomacy to Germany, which has been the main importer of high-technology products for China since 1999. As the relationship between two countries has its ups and downs, Xi Jinping commanded China’s Wildlife Conservation and Association to lend a giant panda as a friendship symbol for both countries. This paper employs a qualitative method using the Eytan Gilboa framework to analyze public diplomacy application with time, purpose, public opinion, government and instrument as the research variables. From those variables will show how panda diplomacy as a public diplomacy practice with long term relations as a result. Keywords: China, Germany, Panda, Public Diplomacy
... Edinburgh zoo's retail and merchandise outfit benefited from the 'panda effect', registering significant increases in sales. Panda loans also opened up a range of promissory material flows fraught with their own environmental consequences: animals were sent to Canada in return for oil (Collard, 2013a), whilst those given to Edinburgh were in lieu of a £2.6 billion contract for supplying salmon meat, Land Rover cars and petrochemical technology (Buckingham et al., 2013). ...
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Relations between nature and capital have been a longstanding concern in the social sciences. Going beyond antinomies of posthumanist and political economic enquiry, this paper advances a set of relational analytics for incorporating liveliness into critical analyses of capital. Firstly, developing the concept of animal work, it shows how metabolic, ecological and affective labour become a productive economic force. Secondly, animating the commodity, it demonstrates how lively forces influence commodification and exchange, enabling or hindering accumulation. Thirdly, tracking animal circulation, it examines the logics of rendition that transform nonhuman life into capital. In conclusion, the paper develops a relational grammar for anatomizing the nature-capital dynamic, one that reorients the economic to be co-constituted by the ecological from the outset.
... Panda loans generate both socioeconomic and environmental effects across the telecoupled systems. Socioeconomic effects include facility construction and operation costs (Buckingham et al. 2013) and entrance fees and travel costs for those who visit the zoos (Liu et al. 2015a). The environmental effects include CO 2 emissions from transporting pandas between sending and receiving systems. ...
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Human-nature interactions are complex and have important implications for achieving sustainable development goals and addressing other global challenges. Although numerous studies have explored human-nature (or human-environment) interactions and generated useful insights, they are largely disintegrated. Because conceptual frameworks are the foundation of quantitative and qualitative integration, many have been proposed but focus mainly on human-nature interactions within a specific system. To reflect human-nature interactions between distant coupled systems, the framework of telecoupling (socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances) has been developed. However, no framework has explicitly integrated human-nature interactions between adjacent coupled systems, let alone within a coupled system as well as between adjacent and distant coupled systems simultaneously. To fill such an important gap, in this paper I present an integrated framework of metacoupling: human-nature interactions within a system (intracoupling), between distant systems (telecoupling), and between adjacent systems (pericoupling). A metacoupled system is a set of two or more coupled systems that interact internally as well as nearby and far away, facilitated by agents affected by various causes with various effects. By differentiating and integrating intracoupling, pericoupling, and telecoupling, the metacoupling framework advances a systems perspective on global sustainability and human well-being. The framework can help uncover hidden systemic connections such as spillovers and feedbacks that may not be apparent when focusing on a particular system. To demonstrate the utility of the metacoupling framework, I illustrate its application to human-nature interactions within a global flagship nature reserve as well as between the reserve and the rest of the world. The illustration suggests that the framework has the potential to help holistically understand and integrate human-nature interactions from local to global scales, over time, and among organizational levels. Finally, I offer suggestions for operationalizing the metacoupling framework and discuss the need for new policy, governance, and management for a sustainable future across the metacoupled world.
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In a global scale of public diplomacy strategies that use nonhuman animals, two of the main representative species are the panda (China) and the koala (Australia). Both species embody several symbolic meanings and are mostly known as cuddly and cute, and their actual lives as diplomatic objects are not usually considered. That is, their perspectives, needs and individuality as subjects outside of their potential benefits for these countries are not commonly addressed when analysing public diplomacy that uses nonhuman animals-usually known as animal diplomacy-. The comparative literature review conducted in this study identifies similarities and discrepancies in how China and Australia have chosen to use the individuals of these endemic species. While China's use of pandas as soft-power tools is widely documented and seen as a positive strategic tool for the country's reputation, Australia's approaches with having koalas as representatives of their country are various, inconsistent and, at times, contradictory, or even accidental. Pandas and koalas are used as gifts in gift diplomacy, considered objects of diplomacy, holders of symbolic power and conveniently for the image of the zoos, seen as refugees of their home countries when in zoos abroad-given their status as threatened species. Even if many of the individual pandas and koalas are named when used for diplomatic purposes, none of them are deemed as moral subjects. Scholars, researchers and journalists promote the ongoing invisibility of the needs and interests of these nonhuman animals even in animal-based diplomacy contexts.
An entire subdiscipline of critical toponymy has developed over the past decades to produce theoretically informed approaches to the study of place-naming, in general, and street-naming, in particular. Among other things, research has focused on the colonial politics of street-naming; renaming of streets after a regime change; and the social justice of street-naming. What has not been documented and discussed in detail, however, is street-naming in terms of interstate geopolitics and diplomacy. In light of this omission, the current paper analyses street-naming as a form of diplomatic gift-giving and an element of geopolitical representations. Drawing on the Turkish capital city of Ankara as a case study, our assemblage analysis shows that street-naming as a form of diplomatic gift-giving has multiple underlying intentions, from strengthening existing ties to recognising shared historical, cultural, ethnic and religious narratives. Street names can also be unwanted gifts to punish or shame other countries for breaking alliances or opposing the ruling regime’s policies. As a form of ritual exchange, street-naming is highly choreographed and may include the obligation to reciprocate the gift. We end the article by suggesting new angles on, and directions for, critical toponymy and diplomacy research.
This paper is concerned with the affective economies of lively capital. Its central argument is that nonhuman life itself has become a locus of accumulation, marked by an atmospheric politics of capital: the intensification of relations between life and productivity by incorporating entire lifeworlds into regimes of generating value. Focusing on the Giant panda – a spectacular icon raising millions of dollars globally – the paper first examines junctures at which their charismatic affects emerge and are manipulated to produce value. Turning to panda lifeworlds in zoos, it then shows how such value production is contingent upon affective labours nonhumans perform in captivity. Nonhuman labour, as a component of atmospheric politics, enables understanding how lively capital is produced and reproduced, a theme interrogated through a critical analysis of the commercial global circulation of pandas. The paper develops the concept of atmospheric politics – an intervention in an animal's milieu and its affective intensities – as a means for analyzing the dynamics of lively capital. Atmospheric politics retrieves a critical political economy obscured by the concept of nonhuman charisma, and restages biopower as an apparatus and political technology of capital.
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Conservation conflicts in protected areas are varied and context-specific, but the resulting effects are often similar, leading to important losses for both humans and wildlife. Several methods and approaches have been used to mitigate conservation conflicts, with an increasing emphasis on understanding the human–human dimension of the conflict. In this article, we present a revision of several conservation conflict cases in the management of protected areas, transdisciplinary and participatory approaches to address conservation conflicts, and finalize by illustrating the application of the nominal group technique (NGT) with the case of the human–giant tortoise interactions in Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. In this article, we demonstrate the use of novel and systematic participatory and deliberative methodology that is able to engage stakeholders in a constructive dialogue to jointly identify and explore options for shared strategies and solutions to conservation conflicts. The results are comparable with other conservation conflicts cases around the world and illustrate the importance of generating legitimatized information that will further help policy and decision-making actions to address conservation conflicts in the management of protected areas.
This article analyzes the tool of public diplomacy called “panda diplomacy”, exclusive of China and how this piece of what is called soft power has served to this country. Using the method of data analysis, examines theoretical issues regarding public diplomacy; reviews panda diplomacy as an aspect of Chinese public diplomacy and its current use and, finally, analyzes the case of diplomacy panda with respect to Mexico. It concludes that this country would be of spearhead for recognition of other countries in the region, which necessarily did not take place. Another conclusion is that Chinese administration has resumed this tool to achieve rapprochement and to get possible concessions from countries interested in having pandas.
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Telecoupled flows of people, organisms, goods, information, and energy are expanding across the globe. Causes are integral components of the telecoupling framework, yet the rigor with which they have been identified and evaluated to date is unknown. We address this knowledge gap by systematically reviewing causal attribution in the telecoupling literature (n = 89 studies) and developing a standardized causal terminology and typology for consistent use in telecoupling research. Causes are defined based on six criteria: sector (e.g., environmental, economic), system of origin (i.e., sending, receiving, spillover), agent, distance, response time (i.e., time lapse between cause and effect), and direction (i.e., producing positive or negative effects). Using case studies from the telecoupling literature, we demonstrate the need to enhance the rigor of telecoupling causal attribution by combining qualitative and quantitative methods via process-tracing, counterfactual analysis, and related approaches. Rigorous qualitative-quantitative causal attribution is critical for accurately assessing the social-ecological causes and consequences of telecouplings and thereby identifying leverage points for informed management and governance of telecoupled systems.
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The Wenchuan Earthquake hit area, locating at the transition between Sichuan basin and Tibet Plateau, is one of most ecologically fragile regions in China, and is playing an important role in ecological security of Sichuan basin as well. The earthquake had not only caused huge human-being lost and property damage, but also had resulted in great impacts on ecosystems. Integrated remote sensing data and field survey, we have assessed the ecological impacts of the earthquake. The results suggested that; (1) 122 136 hm2 of forest, grassland and wetland ecosystems were destroyed in the earthquake, and mainly distributed in 10 counties, such as Wenchuan, Pengzhou, Mianzhu. (2) 65,584 hm2 of giant panda habitat was lost in the earthquake, 5.92% of total panda habitat, (3) 94.64% of damaged ecosystems were distributed in the areas with earthquake magnitude higher than VIII, 53.82% of damaged ecosystems in the areas with altitudes lower than 2000 meters above sea level, 66.09% of damaged ecosystems in the areas with slopes between 30-50°. Since the ecosystem damage resulted from the earthquake will threat ecological security of Sichuan basin, ecosystem restoration should be one of the main focuses in the context of earthquake hit area rebuilding plan.
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Over the past several years we have developed a research program to increase knowledge of giant panda behavioral biology to facilitate efforts to reproduce giant pandas in captivity, particularly at the Wolong Breeding Center in Sichuan, China. Studies of estrus and reproductive behavior have enabled us to better pinpoint the timing of the fertile period and evaluate problems when a pair's behavior diverges from the norm. Experiments with chemosignals demonstrate that pandas possess a sophisti- cated chemical communication system, extracting information about the signaler's sex, reproductive status, age, social status, and individual identity, as well as the age of the chemosignal. The effects of scent on sexual motivation have important applications for captive breeding. Given the proper behav- ioral environment, most pandas now mate naturally at Wolong. Following observations documenting several behavioral problems, we developed an environmental enrichment program to reduce abnormal behaviors, encourage behavioral diversity, and promote well being. Females are monitored closely for signs of pregnancy and we are evaluating behavioral and morphological indices to distinguish preg- nancy from pseudopregnancy. Identification of pregnant females is important because they are man- aged differently than nonpregnant females. In cases of maternal abandonment of cubs, we have devel- oped a method to train the mother to accept her cubs. The result of such behavioral research, coupled with efforts by other disciplines and basic husbandry changes, is a dramatic increase in the number of natural matings, pregnancies, births and cub survivorship.
In 1949 Mao Zedong made the historic proclamation that "the Chinese people have stood up". This statement was significant, undoubtedly reflecting the changing nature not only of China's self-perception, but also of its relationship with the rest of the world. In terms of reducing the imperialist presence of the West and Japan within China, and reasserting China's territorial integrity and legal sovereignty to the outside world, Mao and China can indeed be seen to have successfully 'stood up'. However, the development of China's position in the hitherto Western-dominated international system has been more ambiguous. In China Stands Up David Scott examines the PRC's presence in the international system, from 1949 to the present, and also looks forward to the future, asking: How do we define the rise of China? How does China see its role in the world? What shapes China's role? How do international actors view China's role in the international community? Has China risen in any real sense? Engaging with a rich tapestry of sources and imagery, ranging from governmental, media, academic and popular settings, and bridging the divide between history and international relations, this book will appeal to students and scholars of both these fields, as well as those interested in Chinese politics and foreign policy.
The Wenchuan earthquake of May 2008 was a severe natural disaster that caused significant damage to the habitat of the endangered giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) inhabiting southwestern China. However, the effect of the earthquake on giant pandas is understudied. We took advantage of our long-term dataset on panda habitat use in the Minshan Mountains to investigate panda response to this disaster. We analyzed the habitat use patterns of giant pandas over the course of a 6-year period (5 years pre-earthquake and 1 year post-earthquake) along fixed-width line transects. We found that the habitat use patterns of giant pandas were stable before the earthquake and there was no obvious change after the earthquake (despite habitat loss that occurred). We argue that the Wenchuan earthquake does not appear to have been a significant threat for the giant panda. Our findings contribute to ongoing habitat restoration plans and long-term conservation of the giant panda.