Panda bears, known to most as sweet and harmless creatures, are not mere tourist attractions. Over the past 60 years, pandas have played a central role in China’s foreign relations.

Can’t see video? – Click Here

Panda bears, known to most as sweet and harmless creatures, are not mere tourist attractions. They play a central role in China’s foreign relations. For 60 years, pandas have been used by China as an important diplomatic tool.

In 1957, Chinese ruler Mao Zedong gave the Russians a panda as a gift after the Soviet Union was the first to recognize China’s modern rule. Two decades later, Beijing gave two pandas to the US as well, which became a huge attraction in the Washington zoo. This was all thanks to former US President Richard Nixon who sought to improve his country’s relations with China.









Photo credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

China soon realized the great potential of the sweet animals to improve their status in the world, and from the 1980’s, decided that they will not only give pandas as gifts but rather rent them to countries at high prices- one million dollars a year for one panda.









Photo credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

Belgium and Scotland signed significant trade and commerce agreements with China and received pandas in return. Canada, France and Australia rented pandas after signing deals to sell uranium to China.

When a dispute broke out between Japan and China over the control of islands in the East China Sea, China sent 2 pandas to Japan in order to end the disagreement. Thus, the beloved bear gradually became a symbol of good will.