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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia-China diplomatic ties established 38 years ago is expected to be further enhanced following Beijing's decision to lend Kuala Lumpur two panda bears.
Tomorrow Malaysia and China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) will sign the transfer arrangement agreement for the panda bears, regarded as national treasures by China.
The transfer request was made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao during his visit to Nanning in April to launch Qinzhou Industrial Park, a China-Malaysia joint venture project.
Recognized by the Chinese as a symbol of world peace, the panda represents the Yin and Yang concept and is also China's longest serving ambassador when presented as a gift to Japan during the Tang Dynasty around 685 AD.
The panda with its black and white coat which can grow up to 1.8m long, 1.2m high and 160kg weight.
The animal which inhabits the fertile and mountainous Sinchuan Region has become an icon for China especially after it introduced the "panda diplomacy" in the 1950s.
The reintroduction of "panda diplomacy" has brought diplomatic relations with other countries closer between 1958 to 1982 when China gave 23 pandas to nine countries. In the context of Malaysia-China ties, the move to lend the pandas or the scientific name 'Ailuropoda Melanoleuca' signifies something special between Malaysia and China.
The decision would also strengthen the social, political and economic interest of both countries that existed since 1974 via the "Ping Pong Diplomacy" during the era of second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein. In fact, Najib described China's decision to allow Malaysia have a pair of panda bears as a symbol of close ties between the two countries. He said the panda bears are valuable animals for China and their presence in Malaysia will attract tourists.
Lending the pandas, one of five mascots at 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, showed that China recognised Malaysia's achievement in research and conservation.
The panda which feed on bamboo shoots has a low birth rate and is threatened with extinction as up to 2004, only 1,600 are believed to be still living in the wild.
The panda bears will be placed at Putrajaya Wetlands, not far from the federal government administrative centre.
China's decision to lend Malaysia the pandas for 10 years is not only seen as commemorating the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties in 2014 but also a signal that the ties will last for a long time. -- BERNAMA