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Diplomacy at Its Cutest: Hong Kong Receives Panda Pair from China

Daniel Kim Views  

Global Times

China plans to gift Hong Kong a pair of giant pandas to mark the 27th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty.

According to the state-run Global Times on Tuesday, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, John Lee Ka-chiu, announced at the 27th-anniversary ceremony of the sovereignty return held at the Convention Center on Hong Kong Island that “(China’s) central government has agreed to gift another pair of pandas to Hong Kong” and stated that the pandas are expected to arrive in Hong Kong within a few months.

Mr Lee expressed his gratitude for the central government’s decision, stating, “This gift is even more special as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.” Considering his remarks, it is highly likely that the Chinese government will send the pair of pandas around October 1, which marks the country’s 75th anniversary.

Only Ying Ying and Le Le, the second generation of pandas gifted by China, remain at Ocean Park Hong Kong after the first generation of pandas gifted by China, An An, and Jia Jia, passed away.

Mr Lee said, “The new pair of pandas will become close family members to Hong Kong residents, bringing laughter and joy.”

China has used pandas, a symbol of the country, as diplomatic gifts or loans to countries and regions with friendly relations, a practice known as panda diplomacy.

The Chinese authorities have also decided to expand the mainland visit quota for Hong Kong and Macao residents to commemorate the return of sovereignty.

According to the Global Times, the National Immigration Administration of China will start issuing travel permits (similar to multiple-entry visas) to non-Chinese permanent residents of Hong Kong and Macao from July 10. Once issued, these permits will be valid for five years, allowing the holders to travel freely to and from the mainland within 90 days without any restrictions on the number of visits.

At the ceremony, Mr Lee emphasized that the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, implemented 27 years after Hong Kong’s return, is a “good policy that safeguards China’s sovereignty, security, and interests.”

Like the past six years, this year’s ceremony saw attendance limited to Chinese and Hong Kong government officials, with the public excluded. This marks the sixth consecutive year without public attendance at the ceremony since the massive anti-China protests in 2019, following Hong Kong’s return from British to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

Since the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law in 2020, crackdowns and repression against anti-regime figures and democratic groups have intensified, leading to the fifth consecutive year without any protests or demonstrations.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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