Panda Diplomacy?


Is it just me or has Singapore seen an unusual flurry of diplomatic activity this past couple of weeks? World leaders popping in, shaking hands, posing for photos and perhaps even forging some genuine friendships…And although most eyes were focused on this past weekend’s APEC summit, there was another meeting held Nov.12 between Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong and Chinese Pres. Hu Jintao that resulted in some interesting ‘cultural’ agreements between their two nations.

One was the decision to establish a China Cultural Center in Singapore. The Singaporean government stated that the venue will facilitate Chinese arts and cultural exchanges in Singapore, offer courses in things like Mandarin, calligraphy and Chinese martial arts, and provide information resources in the form of a library of books on China.

The centre’s plans also include exhibitions of Chinese and Singaporean art, film screenings and lectures on Chinese culture. This new centre will become the eighth Chinese Culture Center currently in operation worldwide.

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The second agreement was made to recognize 20 years of diplomatic ties between the two nations, which will be marked next year. Apparently, they’ll commemorate the event by China sending over a pair of pandas to Singapore for ‘joint study.’ This one just doesn’t really sit well with me, though–I thought we’d moved past using pandas as international relations gifts.

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