Cud­dly call­ing card spreads good­will

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - PAGE TWO -

Ger­many was buzzing in late June with news that a long-awaited gi­ant panda pair had ar­rived at the Ber­lin Zoo. The zoo had been with­out a panda since the death of Bao Bao five years ear­lier, and panda ma­nia gripped the na­tion as the pub­lic waited to see Meng Meng and Jiao Qing.

On July 5, the day be­fore the new $10 mil­lion Chi­ne­sethemed en­clo­sure would open, the zoo held a wel­com­ing cer­e­mony for the pan­das. Vis­it­ing Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping toured the en­clo­sure with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel.

Merkel was over­joyed with the ar­rival of the “spe­cial en­voys”, telling Xi they were a “sym­bol of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween our two coun­tries”. How right she was. “Panda diplo­macy” has

This Day, That Year

Item­fromAug2,1990,in Chi­naDaily:Over­weight chil­drenare­fight­ingth­e­flab ataspe­cialBei­jing­sum­mer cam­p­whe­re­allthe­ac­tiv­i­ties arein­tend­ed­to­helpthem slim­down....

Itis­es­ti­mat­edthatthree out­of100­teenagersinthe cap­i­ta­lare­over­weight,and thenum­beris­ris­ing.

Obe­sity is a grow­ing con­cern for Chi­nese health au­thor­i­ties.

Three decades ago, few peo­ple in China were over- been around for years.

In Fe­bru­ary 1972, US pres­i­dent Richard Nixon trav­eled with his wife, Pat, and ad­viser Henry Kissinger to Bei­jing to meet Mao Ze­dong and Zhou En­lai, dra­mat­i­cally end­ing Wash­ing­ton’s diplo­matic cold shoulder to­ward New China. Bei­jing, to un­der­score its good­will to­ward the United States, sent two gi­ant pan­das to Wash­ing­ton the fol­low­ing month.

It’s a ges­ture that China has of­ten re­peated in var­i­ous coun­tries.

In March, for in­stance, two pan­das were sent to the Nether­lands. Four­teen for­eign coun­tries now have gi­ant pan­das, sent as a to­ken of friend­ship by the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic.

It’s such a heart­warm­ing diplo­matic ges­ture, you have to won­der why other coun­tries haven’t fol­lowed suit.

Sure, after the Na­tional Zoo in Wash­ing­ton re­ceived the gift in 1972, Nixon re­cip­ro­cated by send­ing a pair of Alaskan muskoxen to China. weight. As the econ­omy im­proved after re­form and open­ing-up, changes in food and bev­er­age con­sump­tion habits have led to a rise in obe­sity.

The problem is ram­pant in big cities such as Bei­jing.

Re­cent data from the Chi­nese Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion showed that the obe­sity rate in the cap­i­tal was 25.9 per­cent, com­pared with the na­tional av­er­age of 11.9 per­cent.

The cen­ter de­fined “over­weight” adults as those with But it’s not the same.

A muskox just doesn’t say “Greet­ings from the US”.

For that you’d need the bald ea­gle, the US na­tional bird, as seen on dol­lar bills, or the Amer­i­can bi­son, the na­tional mam­mal.

Most coun­tries have a des­ig­nated na­tional an­i­mal, such as Rus­sia’s Eurasian brown bear or In­dia’s Ben­gal tiger. Some chose birds, like France’s Gal­lic rooster and Colom­bia’s An­dean con­dor, and some rep­tiles, like In­done­sia’s Ko­modo dragon.

One could imag­ine a pair of any of these crea­tures serv­ing as a diplo­matic greet­ing card to a for­eign coun­try.

Still, the panda seems to have an in­ex­pli­ca­ble uni­ver­sal charm.

In the ex­cite­ment lead­ing up to the ar­rival of Xing Ya and Wu Wen at Ouwe­hands Zoo in the Nether­lands, de Volk­skrant news­pa­per in Am­s­ter­dam pub­lished an ex­pla­na­tion of the phe­nom­e­non.

Ac­cord­ing to de Volks- a body mass in­dex be­tween 25 and 30, and those with a BMI of 30 or more as “obese”.

To re­duce stu­dent obe­sity, board­ing schools in the cap­i­tal have been banned from sell­ing soft drinks in cafe­te­rias, the Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal Com­mis­sion of Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning said.

Pi­lot healthy cafe­te­rias have been estab­lished in 59 schools.

About 20 per­cent of stu­dents in pri­mary, mid­dle and high schools in Bei­jing are over­weight, ac­cord­ing to a krant, hu­man be­ings are psy­cho­log­i­cally wired to feel ten­der­ness for pan­das.

It’s called the “baby ef­fect”. As with hu­man in­fants, the pupils of a panda’s eyes ap­pear pro­por­tion­ately too big.

“The panda’s eye patches, more­over, sit just right, with the cor­ner of the eye lower, a shape that peo­ple as­so­ci­ate with sup­pli­ca­tion and sub­servience,” the news­pa­per quoted psy­chol­o­gist Mariska Kret of Lei­den Univer­sity as say­ing. “Turn them the other way around and you get an an­gry look­ing face.”

Add the round ears, small snout and head that looks pro­por­tion­ately too big, de Volk­skrant added, and it’s like a baby, hug­gable.

I can’t imag­ine say­ing that about a bald ea­gle.

Con­tact the writer at ly­don@chi­


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sur­vey by the city health com­mis­sion. Among obese chil­dren, about 30 per­cent also suf­fer from high lev­els of blood sugar and fat.


A con­tes­tant per­forms at the women’s 20-meter high div­ing event at the FINA World Cham­pi­onships in Bu­dapest, Hun­gary, at the week­end.

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