- The Washington Times - Monday, December 13, 1999

Panda diplomacy

Overshadowed by the riots in Seattle and the collapse of the trade talks was a sentimental announcement by the ambassador of China.
Ambassador Li Zhaoxing told delegates to the World Trade Organization’s summit that his country has selected a name for a panda cub born Aug. 21 in the San Diego Zoo.
Zoo officials had asked China to select an appropriate name to “convey a sense of joy for the successful partnership of Chinese and American scientists, a sense of importance of China-U.S. relationship and a sense of beauty of this marvelous animal,” Mr. Li said.
The name given to the female panda cub is Hua Mei, meaning literally “flower beauty.”
[Ironically, that is also the name of a controversial deal between American firms and front-companies for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
[“Project Hua Mei” involved a transfer of advanced telecommunications technology in 1994 from AT&T; through a St. Louis firm to Galaxy New Technology, the Chinese army-owned company, according to Insight magazine, The Washington Times’ sister publication.
[“The fiber-optic technology … is not a weapon itself, but it greatly enhances the command and control system linking the Chinese army, navy and air force,” Insight reported.]
The announcement of the new panda’s name came Dec. 1, three days after the death of the panda Hsing-Hsing at Washington’s National Zoo. Hsing-Hsing and his mate Ling-Ling, who died in 1992, were gifts from China in 1972.
“The panda is China’s national treasure,” Mr. Li said in Seattle. “It was designated back in 1962 as protected wildlife. Over the past three decades and more, the Chinese government has devoted a great deal of resources for the protection of the giant panda both in the wild and in captivity.”
Mr. Li said China has created 28 panda reserves and 68 cubs have been born by artificial insemination.
“Still, given the fact that no more than 1,000 giant pandas are in the wild, it is highly imperative to protect and save them through even closer international cooperation,” he said.

Aid to Bulgaria

The United States has launched a $4 million program to help Bulgarian towns along the Danube River that have suffered economically from the war in Kosovo.
U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria Richard Miles, who announced the program last week, said, “We recognize that municipalities on the Danube River bordering Romania have suffered greatly as a result of the Kosovo conflict.”
The NATO bombing of bridges in Serbia blocked river transportation on the Danube.
The Bulgarian Industry Ministry estimates the cost to Bulgaria at $162 million.
Towns on the Danube itself were particularly affected because 70 percent of their exports to Western Europe are usually transported along the river.
The U.S. aid program will help train staff and promote small- and medium-sized businesses, the U.S. Embassy said.

Shoval postpones talk

Israeli Ambassador Zalman Shoval has rescheduled a talk originally planned for Wednesday because of the Israeli-Syrian meeting set for this week in Washington.
Mr. Shoval will deliver his lecture to invited guests of the Israeli Policy Forum next Monday.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Rasul Gouliev, former speaker of the parliament of Azerbaijan. He addresses invited guests of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies.
Peter Hain, Britain’s minister of state for Africa, Middle East and South Asia issues. He meets administration officials.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Sharaa for the resumption of peace talks, which are expected to begin Wednesday. Mr. Barak’s delegation consists of Foreign Minister David Levy, Chief of Staff Danny Yatom, Military Secretary Gadi Izenkotz, Foreign Affairs adviser Tzvi Shtaurer and government spokesman Gadiel Baltiansky. The names of the members of the Syrian delegation were not available for this column’s deadline.

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