• Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has announced that giant pandas will return to the U.S., specifically California, by the end of the year.
  • The statement came during a celebratory banquet in Beijing, marking the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China.
  • The return of giant pandas to California is seen as a positive development amid tensions between the two countries.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Friday that the United States and China must insist on peaceful coexistence and transcend their differences like they did when they established diplomatic relations 45 years ago this week.

Wang also promised that giant pandas would return to the U.S. — and specifically California — by the end of the year.

“China-U.S. cooperation is no longer a dispensable option for the two countries or even for the world, but a must-answer question that must be seriously addressed,” he said.


Wang struck a relatively positive note at a lavish banquet marking the anniversary with 300 guests at a hall in the sprawling Diaoyutai state guest house complex in the Chinese capital.

Giant panda in Washington

Giant panda Xiao Qi Ji plays at his enclosure at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington on Sept. 28, 2023. Foreign Minister Wang Yi also promised during an anniversary banquet on Friday that giant pandas would return to the U.S. by the end of 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

The two countries are trying to navigate — and avoid a war — in what may be their most difficult waters since the U.S. ended official ties with Taiwan and recognized the communist government in Beijing as the government of China on Jan. 1, 1979.

China’s rise as an economic and military power is challenging long-standing American leadership in the Asia region and globally.

“The world is currently undergoing profound changes unseen in a century,” Wang said. “We must think about how to calibrate the direction of the large ship of China-U.S. relations (and) avoid hidden reefs and dangerous shoals.”

Both Wang and David Meale, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy, cited congratulatory letters exchanged by Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday’s anniversary.


Meale, who spoke after Wang, said Biden expressed his commitment to managing the relationship responsibly and said he looked forward to building on the progress made by past leaders of the two countries.

Wang did criticize the use of “the big stick of sanctions” and engaging in power games, charges that China often levels at the United States. He denied that China seeks to supplant any other country and called on the U.S. to respect China’s development path and core interests.

The giant pandas in Memphis, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C., returned to China last year, and some feared that China would stop lending pandas to American zoos because of the tensions between the two countries.

But Xi raised hope for California in November when he told an audience in San Francisco that China was ready to continue cooperating with the U.S. on pandas and “do our best to meet the wishes of the Californians.”

Wang told Friday’s banquet audience that “preparations are ready for a giant panda return to California within the year.”


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