Chinese Panda diplomacy, food habits and mass extinction of species

Chinese Panda diplomacy, food habits and mass extinction of species

While Biden makes his tour to the G7, NATO, Putin and some other European countries, a new caricarure struggle is in the making. This time not Charlie Hebdo and Muhammed, but a caricature of a Chinese social media outet BanTonglao Atang which was published on Weibo and get attraction of the mouthpiece of the CPC, the Global Times which  portrays the last G7 summit as a “last supper” of Western imperialists depicted as their national animals who want to eat  China- as a small cake , but powerless Western states won´t match with China and celebrate their last supper. While most Western and German media ignored this caricature and didn´t hype it as the Global Times, it was mainly the Welt (World) of the Springer Publishing House which also already invited Yoshua Wong as fighter for Hongkong as new Berlin in the tradition of a front state in the Cold War in Asia. The Welt article discovers racism in the Chinese caricature and behaves like the Green Party with its emotionality regarding gender speak. However, in the Welt article. the Chinese caricature of the G 7 summit is now labeled as “racism”because of the animal comparisons:

Illustration: Bantonglaoatang

Illustration: Bantonglaoatang

“ Throughout history, animal comparisons have repeatedly conveyed racist stereotypes. China’s propaganda apparently has no problem with that Source: Bantonglaoatang The Western industrial nations have agreed on a tougher stance towards Beijing. The regime there is wedging back – with a assertative  caricature. It imitates the “Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci. However, around the table there are animals that are supposed to represent the respective nations. The comparison of animals alone awakens unpleasant memories in western viewers: throughout history, racist stereotypes have been conveyed time and again, so that something like this is taboo today. At least in the West.”

Funny that the Springer Publishing House which besides WELT also publishes the BILD newspaper which normally and regulary launches primitive, vulgar sexist, racist and political smear campaigns wants to be the „Western live matters“ guardian of Ocidental civilization. However, animals and animal comparisons have long been used for racist and not racist purposes and animals and animal coparisons are a form often used in politics, propaganda and in Western media and caricatures. Just think of China as a Panda or a Dragon. That you can score with animals and babies as a politician should be common knowledge. The headline of the Süddeutsche Zeitung: “China has the pandas, Great Britain has the royals” – alluding to the hype about the English royal children during the visit to Germany. The AfD is now also using this in the election campaign. No politician without baby kissing photos, the confirmation of every politician that the sometimes ugly baby of the proud voter mother is the most cutest kid in town or on earth and even a Söder is the godfather of a sea lion in the Nuernberg zoo. Potentates and VIPs who, conversely, attract attention through large animal hunting such as the Spanish king or as that well-off and bored US dentist on safari in Africa who shot lion Cecil such in the national park a few years ago, quickly become the focus of public outrage and death threats – not only from animal protectionists and militant Animal Liberation activists, but also from ordinary people.

 It is better to do it like Merkel and Gabriel with Knut, the newborn and cuddly polar bear baby  and  to present the polar bear in a multimedia way or to highlight his successor in Berlin, the polar bear Fritz and especially as a symbol of climate change, for whose rescue the German government is the first in the world to stand up before all others and takes care that these animals  are not expelled from their polar soil because of the melting of the pole and have to find shelter in German zoos as climate refugees. Animal love aims at the highest political symbolic power.

 The PR China has professionalized this knowledge of animal love most efficiently with its panda diplomacy. The real symbol of China is actually the dragon, but since it looks very aggressive and especially since it is just a mythical creature, it is ruled out for both reasons for an animal-symbolic diplomacy that could underpin the internationalist friendship between peoples. In Chinese caricatures in the party newspaper People’s Daily and the government-affiliated Global Times, the dragon is always used when it is supposed to symbolize China’s fighting strength in international conflicts or as a coming world power. If, on the other hand, China wants to symbolize itself as a representative of a new, peaceful and defensive, multipolar and just world order in the sense of a peaceful ascent, the funny-cute looking, child-like and completely harmless panda is mostly used to depict the absolute peacefulness of China.

This is also the case in foreign policy relations. Many countries have a national animal in their coat of arms, national flag or in their symbolism, be it the American white head eagle, the Australian kangaroo, the New Zealand Kiwi, the German eagle, which nobody knows whether it is a golden eagle or an over-fat Wienerwald chicken, the African Lion or the Russian bear – China has the panda. But apart from China, there is still no US or German eagle, New Zealand Kiwi, Australian kangaroo or Russian bear diplomacy. Especially since a Russian bear as a gift from Putin to Merkel would be more aggressive, unless it was a bear baby that could look as lovely as the adult pandas. How about a Russian panda diplomacy with a Russian baby bear from Siberia in a Western zoo? Also as a symbol for a new detente, a Green New Deal, the Arctic and the Siberian green lungs of Eurasia and the world? What if Putin lend a Russian „panda“or Russian Knut to a Western zoo?Or would this be seen as an unfriendly, manipulative hybrid propaganda warfare? Perhaps that depends on the lack of cuddling factor these animals have, but perhaps also on the fact that none of these states ever came up with the idea – the Chinese panda diplomacy is already outstanding, as is their national animal. Probably the former.

 Especially since these animals are not as rare as China’s panda, which is considered a national symbol and rare animal species in China and for the recipient of the panda diplomacy is an identification of very close friendly relations between China and the respective state and an honorary award. On the one hand, there must be intensive economic contacts, an outstanding political and economic size of the country and close diplomatic relations, on the other hand such a panda is not a gift, but a loan for which the host state has to pay 900,000 euros per animal annually and any offspring in the foreign country also remains the property of the People’s Republic of China.

It is touching when Merkel and Xi Jinping visit Baobao and Jiaoqing in the Berlin zoo, who nibble their bamboo sticks in front of the assembled media undisturbed and peacefully in front of both politicians. German-Chinese friendship, animal welfare, love for animals, human love, China and Germany especially as common champions in matters of free trade and climate protection against the nasty Trump and now alittle less under Biden. . Although it is noticeable that China is so fond of animals, it otherwise has an image problem with other animals that it kills and imports for its traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), be it rhinoceros horns or elephant tooth meal for potency problems of Chinese men or shark fins or lion testicles for the alleged cure of other diseases. Especially since the Chinese are considered to be dog eaters and this year again they live up to their reputation as dog eaters: In the context of the G20 summit and the panda propaganda show in a Chinese province in the city of Yulin, the “dog meat festival” is celebrated. Locals and dog meat lovers from other parts of the country and Asia under police protection and the eyes of the world media and countless, desperate animal friends who want to save the dogs from their fate, sell live dogs in tiny cages at markets, traditionally beaten to death with iron bars and eaten with loved ones. Some of the dogs are bred for this purpose, but a good number are also just street dogs and stolen domestic dogs, “man’s best friends” from all corners of the country. At this „festival“ up to 4,000 dogs are „cleaned up“ in Yulin. There is believed to be an illegal dog meat market across China, estimated to be an annual consumption of 10-20 million dogs, although an official survey found that two-thirds of Chinese people disapprove of dog meat. In all of Asia 30 million dogs are said to be eaten, because both parts of Korea also have dogs „like to eat“!

Expressions of the protest against the Chinese dog-eaters are now T-shirts with the imprint: “Save a Dog- Eat a Chinese!” and „Save a Shark- Eat a Chinese“ and similar synonymous slogans in circulation. On this, Chinese associations have now written an angry and open protest letter to the T-shirt distributor Spreadshirt with the following text:

“It was with great dismay that we learned last weekend that your company sells T-shirts which, among other things, encourage people better to eat Chinese instead of a dog or a shark (“ Save a Dog-Eat a Chinese ”and“ Save a Shark-Eat a Chinese ”). We ourselves are Chinese and feel not only seriously injured by this request, but also discredited and defamed. And objectively such “sayings” blatantly violate the constitutionally guaranteed human dignity, which is guaranteed not only in the German Basic Law, but above it also in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. (…) Since, according to our impression, you have lost any sensitivity to basic questions of human decency with regard to the expected sales proceeds, we inform you about how this statement affects us and our compatriots. With this saying the ethical worth, the dignity and the human condition of a Chinese are placed below those of an animal, be it a dog or a shark. Or should such a slogan serve as an invitation to reduce the growing population in China through genocide? However one interprets this, the message and the statement as such are unmistakable: Before animals are killed for eating, one should first start with the Chinese. “ (Source: Chinese Handelszeitung, No. 429 of March 15, 2017)

In the following, the company is threatened with legal action in the sense of a lawsuit based on Section 130 of the Criminal Code (sedition) and economic boycott. You don’t want to accept these racist slogans so easily. Like most people, the Chinese don’t like it when you like to eat them. While Westerners are upset about the consumption of dog meat by some Chinese, they are a bit forgetting that the non-vegan and non-vegetarian Western omnivores and all-eaters eat

 Sheep babies and their parents

Baby cows and their parents,

Baby pigs and their parents

 Rabbits, Chickens and their unborn babies, Ducks, Geese, Horses, Frogs, Snails and all kinds of fish and marine life and sseafood and is therefore actually not justified in rising above the Chinese, who, as we finally know very well, eat everything that is not a table and chair and has four legs. This was exactly like you would print T-shirts “Save a Cow-Eat a German”, etc. Especially since the menu of the Chinese, which for some Westerners seems somewhat exotic, is also related to the history of China with the frequent famines at the time, which forced the Chinese to eat everything that was still there, although cases of cannibalism remained the exception. Especially since extravagant, exotic, animal-torturing luxury foods were more of a decadent upper-class phenomenon, like the monkey whose skull you hit with a hammer in order to eat its brain alive. But these too are mostly more traditional horror stories and rumors on the part of imperialist apologists at the time who wanted to propagate “Asian cruelty” – more exceptional cases and more Dr. Fu Manchu novel as reality.

At least the four-legged friends do not forget the origin and language of their tormentors if they survive it. In my Chinese course at the time I had a fellow student named Babsi who had saved her dog Flea from a Chinese soup pot in Taiwan and still had a clear scar on the carotid artery, but it was interesting that Flea always got on well with us German students, but as soon as Chinese Fellow students or our Chinese teacher intoned their tonal language, the dog freaked out, barked and became aggressive that he had to be held back. Apparently, Flea recognized the tone and language of his tormentors, who wanted him to be promoted to the soup pot as a soup dog. Watch the Dog, Chinese!

But one should see that only 1/3 of the Chinese still support the consumption of dog meat, especially since there are millions of dog owners in China who do not keep them for food reasons, but out of animal and / or prestige love and are forming an increasing animal welfare lobby, which brings about a slow change in values, since the Chinese under Mao and the time afterwards were forbidden from keeping pets and they now enjoy the new fellow creatures, insofar as they do not keep them as sport animals like pigeons to hold gambling-like competitions and therefore at the good and are interested in the optimal condition of their animal property. Especially since western people should only get upset about Chinese insofar as they want to criticize and stop the unspecific factory farming, animal transports, chick shredding and other excesses of European and western food production and commercial animal use.

German sinologist Prof. Hans von Ess comments the Chinese dog consumption as follows:

“As far as I know, the consumption of dog meat has always been a regional phenomenon in China, just as the cuisine in China has a lot of local variations. Especially in northeast China on the border with Korea, in Jilin, and in the southwest it is widespread, in Shanghai one has never seen much of it. A third of the dog meat eater is a relatively large amount. As long as the whole world does not stop eating domestic animals, which it has practiced much more intensively in the course of the last 100,000 years than today and to which it owes its cultural boom, according to all the findings of paleobiology, there is, in my opinion, no reason to upset about the consumption of dog meat in China. We are culturally shaped in a different way (although dog meat was also eaten in Germany well into the nineteenth century, perhaps also because large quantities of dog meat are likely to be harmful to health due to the purines. In Europe in the Middle Ages people ate significantly more pork than is on the table today. After all, what is important is a balanced diet – something from everyone, but not from one too much.”

In this context it is interesting that the eating habits of the young Chinese are changing similarly to the FFF generation, albeit probably more because of health and beauty tips from influencers rather than climate or animal protection. But the trend towards fatty fast food and meat seems to be reversing. I found it in In the 90s and 2000s it was always strange that so many young Chinese ran to McDonalds and KFCs and did not enjoy the delicious Chinese food. Conversely, traditional consumers of Chinese cuisine in restaurants would always ask me why I liked so much „poor people’s food“ when I ordered more vegetables and rice, the status-conscious, modern Chinese at that time seemed to be characterized by increased meat consumption. But with all these considerations one should also see last year’s food shortage, which then led the CCP to a food-saving campaign.However food habits are causing heated debates in China as the following articles by the Global Times illustrate:

“More young Chinese people ‚chewing grass‘ in pursuit of healthier lifestyle

By Global Times Published: Jun 16, 2021 12:38 AM

More Chinese, especially young people, are choosing light meals with less carbohydrates and more vegetables. This trend, observers say, reflects the fact that anxiety over appearance is increasing in society, but if also shows increased interest in healthier lifestyles amid reports that China accounts for almost half of global gastric cancer cases.

Jokingly referred to by young people as „chewing grass,“ the light meals are a healthy alternative to the more common dietary habits in some parts of China, such as spicy hotpot in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province using red chili oil as a soup base.

Lighter food has become a well-known concept in the country over the past few years, with people preferring food with less sugar, oil and salt, as well as a larger amount of vegetables. It also focuses on restoring the original taste of the ingredients through much simpler cooking.

A report in Euromonitor predicted the market volume for light meals in China will reach around 120 billion yuan in 2022. „It’s an industry with fierce competition and good opportunities at the same time,“ said one online observer. Many top companies in China have joined the market to get a share of the pie.

KFC opened its first health-conscious eatery, KPRO, in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province in 2017, and Japanese restaurant chain Yoshinoya also opened a „light meal“ concept store in Chengdu, Sichuan in the same year. The Chinese retailer Luckin Coffee also announced it was entering the light meal industry in 2018, rolling out a series of products including sandwiches and salads. 

Statistics from Meituan, China’s largest online food delivery platform, show that orders for light meals exceeded 26 million in 2018. 

„If you come to where I work at noon, you will see a large number of my colleagues, including myself, coming in and out with salad takeaways, or light meals packed in paper boxes,“ a member of staff at an international consulting company in Beijing told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

„Everyone wants to keep fit and look good. It’s like an invisible competition,“ she added, „and light meals for lunch is only part of the competition. You can also see my colleagues on treadmills in a gym near our company at 11 pm after work.“ 

People also know that a healthier diet can reduce the risk of gastric cancer. China accounts for about 40 percent of all cases of gastric cancer in the world, according to statistics from China’s National Health Commission in 2018.

The topic of „light meals“ was the second-hottest topic on Sina Weibo at noon on Tuesday, as netizens shared their light meal photos on social media. Some showed steamed and sliced purple sweet potato and pumpkin to replace rice, and others had chicken and fish instead of pork, which is considered to be healthier even though the amount of calories is similar.

A college student surnamed Chen, who comes from Beijing, told the Global Times that healthier food is a popular choice when going out with friends. „We have changed our dinner choice from hotpot and barbecue to restaurants with lighter food. Sometimes we just go to a café for brunch or afternoon tea instead of midnight dinner.“

“Kindergarten under investigation for offering vegetarian-only meals to children

By Wan Lin Published: Mar 04, 2021 07:02 PM

Education authorities in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province launched an investigation on Thursday into a kindergarten that offers vegetarian-only meals to children. The kindergarten, which features „traditional culture,“ drew a backlash from netizens and concerns from nutritionists that it might leave kids malnourished. 

The kindergarten, located in Chengdu, was first brought to public attention after a blogger who promoted vegetarianism published an article on the special way the kindergarten educates the kids to respect life and nature by not giving them meat in their meals. 

According to the article, the school provides students with a wide variety of vegetarian meals to ensure they get the necessary nutrition and also teaches them how food is produced, how to protect the environment and how to get along with animals. 

While the article, which has already been deleted, won support from some of the blogger’s followers, it also caused a stir among other netizens who were worried the meals might not provide enough nutrition the children need for their growth. 

Fan Zhihong, professor of the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety in China Agricultural University, said it is harder for schools to make a nutritionally balanced meal without meat.   

„The key lies in whether the all-vegetarian meal at the school is made under the guidance of professional child nutritionists to make it a balanced diet. If not, then the kids might face potential nutritional problems,“ she told the Global Times on Thursday, noting that vegetarian food offers fewer options that satisfy kids‘ needs.

Critics also questioned whether the school was formally regulated by the authorities, with some wondering if it was just „selling“ vegetarian ideas to the students and society under the guise of „traditional culture.“

The „Chinese traditional education“ kindergarten adopts an education system used in ancient China, according to its introduction, in which students learn and recite Chinese classical texts such as the Four Books and Five Classics, and worship the Confucius statue.

However, netizens found it ironic that the school promotes non-meat meals to „show respect for“ Chinese traditional culture, as there is no connection between the two, and even the sage Confucius, whom they worship, once gave guidance on how to eat meat delicately. 

Professor Fan focused more on whether the children’s eating habits will be affected, noting that the parents and teachers should respect the children’s own choice of whether they want to eat vegetarian food or not.

„There are many factors that should be considered when it comes to shaping children’s eating habits. Social pressure and fewer choices of nutritionally balanced diet when eating outside are all potential challenges a vegetarian kid might face in our society,“ she said. 

In China, there are nearly 100 similar „Chinese traditional culture“ kindergartens that also promote vegetarian meals for students, covering most provinces in the country, according to media reports.

While vegetarian food allegedly related to Chinese culture and Confucius is rejected, on the other side there seems to be a consent that fat kids have a more balanced diet and that the saying of a Coca Cola producer “If I can sell each Chinese a Coke, it would be a dream”, might be a dream for him, but not for China:

“Shanghai kindergarten rolls out “diet plans” for chubby kids

By Global Times Published: Dec 29, 2020 10:00 PM

A kindergarten in Shanghai has recently rolled out a series of „diet plans“ to help obese kids lose weight, including special low-fat meals and exercise programs. Children who join the program will also wear smart bracelets, allowing parents to track heart rates and other indexes to help adjust plans better suited for their kids. 

„We conduct physical examinations for every newly-enrolled student, and we have found obesity among kids a serious issue, as it takes up an increasingly larger percentage every year,“ a school nurse explained in a video circulating on China’s twitter-like Sina Weibo, which gained over 10,000 likes over a short period. 

By increasing the amount of vegetables and the intake of protein, coupled with more exercise such as running and jumping, the obesity rate is gradually dropping. 

In addition, children on this program have also been provided with smart bracelets, from which parents can see the amount of exercise and heart rates of their children through mobile phones in real time, so as to timely adjust their exercise plans both at school and at home. 

„I wish I had such warm-hearted teachers back in my school days, so I wouldn’t worry about it now,“ a netizen commented, calling for such programs to be promoted nationwide. 

Children in China have become heavier in recent years. About 10 percent of children under 6 years old are obese, and the rate reaches 20 percent for children aged 6 to 17, according to a report released by China’s National Health Commission on December 23. 

Frequent consumption of sugary drinks is a prominent cause, said the report. About one-fifth of primary and middle school students in China „often“ drink sugary beverages, it noted.”

However, the connection between food habits and  climate and animal protection till yet doesn´t find a big audience in China as health and beauty and a life style status quo thinking are more important.

But it is significant that the pictures of the Chinese pandas in the Berlin zoo tower above all other small print messages and act as a symbol for close cooperation between China and Germany. The Chinese who were otherwise decried as dog-eaters and monsters appear now as as the best animal lovers and human friends of the Germans when it comes to saving the world, free trade and climate protection. One would like to leave Merkel and Xi Jinping with the pandas in the Berlin zoo enclosed, all this looks so cute, harmonious and peaceful – despite all the imperialist differences and worldwide conflicts. A psychological haven of peace of harmony that is offered to you for a moment and that is why it is so well received: Everything will be fine! as an all-round reassuring meta-message in a world in upheaval and geopolitical rivalery. After that, at the latest, it comes back to steel quotas, Huawei, trade differences between the EU and China, the question whether China and Xi Jinping is more Winnie the Pooh and a Panda bear or more a dangerous systematic rival and dragon.

winnie the pooh and Xi Jinping

 From these conversations at the latest, the pandas and the inter-imperialistic cuddling factor will be forgotten again and we hope that they will be able to nibble peacefully on their bamboo poles for a long time to come. Sometimes you just want to be a panda who can live so peacefully and protected with a female without being aware of global human problems. But it is precisely this human desire that the two pandas serve and that is why they are so gladly wecomed. In the latest study “Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines” by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, mankind is warned of the sixth biological extinction of species and this compared with the extinction of the dinosaurs and previous mass extinctions of species. Whether mammals, reptiles, insects – the extinction of species has now assumed such dramatic forms and dimensions that it is downright fatal how little this is discussed in the media and by politics. Everyone is talking about climate change, hardly anyone about the massive extinction of species and this is also not the subject of G-7 and G-20 summits, since one is chasing after the highest economic growth without considering nature,animals,  the flora and fauna. Even the little panda diplomacy at the G-20 summit cannot mask that.

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