Sunday, February 12, 2006

Misunderstanding Diplomacy, American Zoos Whine About Pandas Lent By China


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Even as two zoos that host Chinese diplomat pandas reap huge crowds thanks to baby pandas, all three American zoos with these rarified creatures are whining about housing them. The Chinese use pandas as diplomats, not curiosities. When the zoos went to the media to complain, this was a grave breech in etiquette.

From the New York Times:
Lun Lun and Yang Yang have needs. They require an expensive all-vegetarian diet — 84 pounds a day, each. They are attended by a four-person entourage, and both crave privacy. Would-be divas could take notes.

Jessica McGowan for The New York Times
Yang Yang, on display at the Atlanta zoo, has his bamboo brought in from backyards around the state.
But the real sticker shock comes from the annual fees that Zoo Atlanta must pay the Chinese government, $2 million a year, essentially to rent a pair of giant pandas. Giant pandas are also on loan to zoos in Washington, San Diego and Memphis.

The financial headache caused by the costly loan obligations to China has driven Dennis W. Kelly, chief executive of Zoo Atlanta, to join with the directors of the three other zoos to negotiate some budgetary breathing room. If no agreement with China can be made, Mr. Kelly said, the zoos may have to return their star attractions.
I am certain, after this whiny article, the Chinese will call for us to return the very valuable pandas and shut up the whining.

The first pandas were brought over to America to demonstrate joint friendship and a desire to form alliances. But now this is all gone and we are trying to shove the entire planet into eternal wars with all of Muslim and all Chinese as well as kicking in the Russians, Venezuelans and a host of other people, seemingly endless list.

The American zoos are under the impression they were makinga business deal to make easy money for themselves sort of like how we kidnap killer whales and put them into clown acts at aquariums. The Chinese have stringent rules for their cuddly diplomats so they can't be forced to dance or jump through hoops or in other ways, entertain drooling masses of screaming children.
"If we can't renegotiate, they absolutely will go back," Mr. Kelly said. "Unless there are significant renegotiations, you'll see far fewer pandas in the United States at the end of this current agreement."
Oh, boo hoo. First, this is a good thing. Why send pandas anywhere? Secondly, America is being very hostile to China so why send any more panda diplomats here, anyway? After all, the Pentagon openly said they are planning for a major war with China so this is pretty hostile. No point in posting diplomat pandas in zoos where they can't escape!

Thirdly, the USA zookeepers think China needs the money, that China is like America, bankrupt, borrowing money from China, whoops, America, and need to have us keep the pandas to balance the budget. Har har.

Indeed, the first thing Mr. "Evil Empire" Reagan did to the Soviet Union to punish them for invading Afghanistan was to lift Jimmy Carter's wheat embargo! We had to balance the trade deficit, Reagan said with a straight face. No wonder we are going bankrupt. And have no power.

China has no trade deficit. They are doing just great. Maybe our zookeepers can pick up a begging bowl and go to Beijing and kneel before the rulers there and plead for pandas. Of course, the answer will be no.

Further, is costs how much to keep them? About three day's worth of murdering, torturing and in general, aggravating Muslims in the Middle East? Gads. Let's get some fiscal priorities here.
Then there are the contracts, most lasting 10 years. Because China retains ownership of the pandas, zoos lease each pair for $1 million a year. If cubs are born, the annual fee increases by an average of $600,000. In addition, each zoo has agreed to pay another million or so each year to finance research and conservation projects in the United States and in China. Taken together, Mr. Kelly says, the contracts are worth more than $80 million to the Chinese government.

Mr. Kelly said he hoped China would consider the request to reduce the fees because most other countries pay far less for their pandas. Australia and Thailand, he said, pay about $300,000 each year for theirs. So far, China seems amenable to considering it, he said. Chinese officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Are we comparing ourselves to Thailand? A small, very small second tier country? And Australia, which has a tenth of our population and economy? Are we little babies? It is telling that the Chinese gave the NYT the cold shoulder and it is even more telling that Mr. Kelly thinks the Chinese won't skin him alive for divulging ongoing negotiations without alerting them. Indeed, in an attempt to pressure them by raising a public ruckus. No, no. This is neither diplomatic nor does it work for athletes negotiating for better contracts or owners trying to reduce athelete's contracts when their scores drop.

Besides, these diplomatic pandas who are very skillful, they have serene faces and they take their time before answering and they are in general, inscrutible, they don't belong in a zoo at all.

Rove, he and his ilk belong in a well guarded pen.
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