14:34 GMT +317 October 2019
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    One-year-old female giant panda cub Nuan Nuan reacts inside her enclosure during joint birthday celebrations for the panda and its ten-year-old mother Liang Liang at the National Zoo in Kuala Lumpur on August 23, 2016.

    China Sends Two Giant Pandas to Indonesia to Improve Strained Relations

    © AFP 2019 / MOHD RASFAN
    Asia & Pacific
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    China transferred two giant pandas to Indonesia in hopes that the so-called panda diplomacy will help improve interstate relations that are going through a difficult period because of disagreements over the South China Sea.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Two seven-year-old pandas, Cai Tao and Hu Chun, were transported from the Chinese province of Sichuan to Jakarta on Thursday to be placed in a special panda park with an area of 4,800 square meters (5,740 square yards), which is part of the Taman Safari Indonesia park, The Straits Times newspaper reported.

    China usually gives other countries pandas on condition of a 10-year breeding loan. This gesture is widely known as "panda diplomacy" and aims to symbolize Beijing's close relations with the country receiving the furry ambassadors.

    Despite the fact that China is a growing investor in Indonesia, and both countries have long enjoyed friendly ties, the "panda diplomacy" comes amid strained relations between Indonesia and China, largely due to Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

    The Natuna Islands, stretching out between the northwestern Indonesia and the southern tip of Vietnam, comprise some 270 islands that form part of Indonesia’s Riau Islands, which make up one of 34 Indonesian provinces.

    In 2015, China publicly acknowledged Indonesia’s sovereign right to the Natuna Islands, following tensions, as Beijing started a sand-pumping project to artificially enlarge the territory of some tiny islands in the South China Sea. At the same time, Beijing's claims last year that parts of Indonesia's waters off the Natunas were its "traditional fishing grounds" have increased tensions between the countries.‎ Jakarta has repeatedly detained Chinese boats for illegal fishing near the Natunas.

    panda, diplomacy, China, Indonesia
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