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China demands ‘600 million’ for caring for pandas for ’20 years’

China has long used its national treasure, the panda, as a sign of co-operation and friendship with other countries. The globally endangered pandas are found in only a few areas, such as Sichuan, China, and require special care due to their low reproductive rate메이저놀이터, which is why China receives 1.3 billion won per year for each panda it lends. If the panda gives birth to a cub, it receives 500 million won, and if it dies, it receives 600 million won.

The 70 or so pandas in 21 countries, including Korea, are all owned by China and must return to China when the contract ends. Xiangxiang, Yongming and their twin daughter pandas, who went to Japan, have returned to China, as have the pandas sent to the United States. Fubao, a panda born in Korea in 2020, will also have to return to China next year when her four-year loan period ends.

Canada returned the panda early because it costs at least 4 billion won to raise a panda. With a Chinese zookeeper on loan, and a diet so finicky that it will only eat the leaves of certain bamboo species, a panda that costs nearly 1 billion won a year to maintain is a rather expensive gift.

Worse, if the panda’s health deteriorates, it becomes a diplomatic issue. The sudden death of a panda at a US zoo in 2003 outraged China, which sent experts to perform a joint autopsy. Last month, the Chiang Mai Zoo in Thailand demanded nearly $600 million in compensation after Lin Hui, a panda it had cared for for 20 years, died of old age.

Thai media reported that a joint autopsy with China on the 21-year-old Lin Hui revealed that the cause of death was weakened blood vessels due to age and blood clots in various organs. In reality, Lin Hui had a nosebleed shortly before he died of vascular disease. The media outlet added that Chinese experts acknowledged that the zoo had taken good care of Linhui for the past 20 years.

Nevertheless, the Chinese government held the zoo responsible and issued a foreign ministry statement saying, “China is saddened by Lin Hui’s death.” The Chiang Mai Zoo will pay China 15 million baht ($570 million) in compensation for the death of the panda, which it spent billions to care for.

A female baby panda named Fubao, born on July 20 to the country’s only giant panda couple, Lovao and Aibao, at Everland in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do, Monday. 4 November 2020 Yonhap News

Fubao, who celebrated her first birthday on 20 July 2021, catches a watou (bread eaten by pandas) during a stone-catching event. Courtesy of Everland
“Give me back my pandas” for raising unmanageable pandas

A panda should be returned to China after spending millions of dollars in captivity. Panda diplomacy began in the 1970s and 1980s as a strategy to dilute negative images of China’s rise on the international stage with cute images of pandas.

Pandas only eat fresh bamboo leaves, so Everland flies in fresh bamboo every day of the week, and the cost of the bamboo alone is reportedly more than $100 million a year. Even if they are born and raised in South Korea, they must be named with Chinese characters and have permission from the Chinese side. Pu Bao’s parents, Aibao and Liu Bao, will return to China in March 2031, when the 15-year loan period originally agreed upon by China and South Korea ends. In Pu Bao’s case, it is unlikely that she will ever come back to South Korea once she returns to China to breed.

Animal rights groups say the practice of forcibly removing animals from their habitats to be used as diplomatic tools should be stopped. “Pandas are intelligent, social animals with strong bonds with family and friends,” said Jason Baker, vice president of PETA Asia, emphasising that they should not be given and received like gifts.

U.S. Representative Nancy Mays said, “Every year, millions of Americans welcome pandas into their homes, unaware of the sinister plot behind their short stay. We shouldn’t be funding China’s propaganda campaign,” she said, criticising China for charging rent for pandas.

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