China to send a new pair of giant pandas to Australia in sign of warming ties

Premier Li Qiang of China announced on Sunday that a new pair of giant pandas will be provided to Australia, signaling a warming of relations between the two countries. The announcement was made during Li’s visit to Adelaide Zoo, as part of his four-day trip to Australia. According to Chinese state media, the new pandas will be sent to the zoo in Southern Australia after the current pair return to China later this year. This visit by Li, the first by a Chinese premier in seven years, comes after Beijing lifted high tariffs on Australian wines and eased restrictions on barley, timber, and coal. These measures were implemented in response to then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call for an international inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic in China. However, relations between the two countries have improved since the Labor party took power in Australia in 2022.
According to the Australian government, China is the largest trading partner of Australia, accounting for nearly one third of its overseas trade. At the same time, Australian commodities play a significant role in Beijing’s efforts to revive its struggling economy. China’s “panda diplomacy” program, where pandas are loaned to more than 20 countries as envoys of friendship, is sometimes seen as a barometer of relations between China and other nations.
Wang Wang and Fu Ni, the only giant pandas in the southern hemisphere, have been residing at Adelaide Zoo since November 2009. In 2019, a deal was made to extend their stay for another five years, as reported by Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua.

China’s second-highest ranked official, Li, expressed his satisfaction with the pandas’ well-being and contented life in Australia, despite being far from their homeland. China’s Foreign Ministry released a statement quoting Li, stating that Wang Wang and Fu Ni have become ambassadors of friendship between China and Australia, symbolizing the deep bond between the two nations.

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