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China promises return of giant pandas to California in 2024

  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that giant pandas will return to the United States, especially California, by the end of the year.
  • The statement was made at a celebratory dinner in Beijing commemorating the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China.
  • The giant panda's return to California is seen as a positive development amid tensions between the two countries.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday advocated peaceful coexistence between the United States and China, saying they must overcome their differences as they did when they established diplomatic relations 45 years ago this week.

Mr. Wang also promised that giant pandas would return to the United States, especially California, by the end of the year.

“China-US cooperation is no longer an indispensable option for both countries, or even for the world, but a question that requires answers that must be taken seriously,” he said.

Three giant pandas leave Washington, D.C.'s Smithsonian National Zoo for China, ending 50 years of operation

Mr. Wang made a relatively positive impression at a lavish anniversary banquet for 300 guests in the hall of the vast Diaoyutai State Guest House in the Chinese capital.

Giant panda Xiao Qiji plays in his enclosure at the Smithsonian's National Zoo on September 28, 2023 in Washington. Foreign Minister Wang Yi also promised at a commemorative dinner on Friday that giant pandas would return to the United States by the end of 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

The two countries are trying to navigate perhaps the most difficult waters and avoid war since the United States ended official relations with Taiwan and recognized Beijing's communist government as the government of China on January 1, 1979. .

China's rise as an economic and military power is challenging America's long-standing leadership in the Asian region and the world.

“The world is currently experiencing profound changes not seen in 100 years,” Wang said. “We have to think about how to orient the big ship of Sino-American relations and avoid hidden reefs and dangerous shoals.”

Both Wang and U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission David Mir referred to the congratulatory messages exchanged by Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday's anniversary.

Giant panda leaves Washington DC's National Zoo for China earlier than expected

Mir, who spoke after Wang, said he looked forward to Biden expressing his determination to manage the relationship responsibly and building on the progress made by the two countries' past leaders.

Mr. Wang criticized the use of “the big stick of sanctions” and engaging in power games, an accusation that China often confronts the United States with. He denied that China is trying to replace other countries and called on the United States to respect China's development path and core interests.

Giant pandas from Memphis, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C., returned to China last year, but some feared China would stop lending pandas to U.S. zoos because of tensions between the two countries.

However, Mr. Xi told an audience in San Francisco in November that China was ready to continue cooperating with the United States on the panda issue and “do our best to meet the demands of Californians,” and expressed his hopes for California. increased.

“We are ready for giant pandas to return to California by the end of the year,” Wang told the audience at a dinner party on Friday.

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