'Panda diplomacy' builds relationships, fills coffers

June 24, 2012 at 2:17 PM ET

AFP - Getty Images /
Visitors take photographs of a panda in an enclosure at the Giant Panda Research Base in Chengdu, China, June 24, as thousands of visitors gather for the Duanwu festival or better known as the Dragon Boat festival.

China engages in "panda diplomacy", using the endangered but iconic bears as diplomatic gifts to other countries, and also runs a lucrative trade hiring the animals out to foreign zoos, as only around 1,600 remain in the wild in China, with some 300 others in captivity.

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AFP - Getty Images /
Workers show off the baby pandas at the Giant Panda Research Base.