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China to gift new giant pandas to Australia in sign of diplomatic thaw

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Adelaide | June 16, 2024 5:11:22 PM IST
China has announced plans to gift Australia with a new pair of giant pandas, a gesture seen as bolstering the warming relations between the two nations. Premier Li Qiang revealed this during his visit to Adelaide Zoo, marking the start of a four-day trip to Australia, CNN reported, citing reports from Australian public broadcaster ABC.

The pandas will be sent to Southern Australia's zoo once the current pair, Wang Wang and Fu Ni, return to China later this year, as reported by Chinese state media.

Li's visit, the first by a Chinese premier in seven years, signifies a significant thaw in relations, following recent diplomatic manoeuvers including the lifting of high tariffs on Australian wines and the removal of barriers on barley, timber, and coal. These measures were initially imposed after former Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an international inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic in China in 2020. Relations have since improved since the Labour party took office in Australia in 2022.

China, being Australia's largest trading partner, plays a pivotal role in the country's international trade, accounting for nearly one third of its overseas trade activities. Meanwhile, Australia's commodities are crucial for Beijing's economic recovery efforts.

Panda diplomacy, a programme where China loans pandas to over 20 countries as symbols of friendship, serves as a significant barometer of bilateral relations. Wang Wang and Fu Ni, the only pandas in the southern hemisphere, have resided at Adelaide Zoo since November 2009, with their stay extended in 2019 through a bilateral agreement, according to China's state-run news agency Xinhua.

During his visit, Premier Li expressed his satisfaction with the care Wang Wang and Fu Ni received, noting that they have adapted well to their new home and have become symbols of the deep friendship between China and Australia.

"They have become envoys of friendship between China and Australia, and a symbol of the profound friendship between the two peoples," Li remarked in a statement from China's Foreign Ministry, CNN reported. (ANI)

 
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