Panda Politics: Tai Shan returning to China despite U.S. citizenship

Stephen Yates Contributor
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Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010, is a day that shall live in infamy, as they say.

It is the day that the People’s Republic of China hits the world’s sole superpower where it hurts—in the hearts of children young and old.

Today, Red Guards swoop into the National Zoo in Washington, snatch up cuddly panda cub Tai Shan, and send him off to a re-education-through-reproduction camp in China. Well, not exactly. But they really are snatching him away to reproduce in China.

Truth is Tai Shan’s parents are “leased” to the National Zoo and remain the property of China. Apparently so is their offspring, even though the friendly fur ball was born in D.C. Part of the fine print in the lease is that they all go back to China at some point.

The real question, though, is what does it say about the kind of power China is becoming that it would deploy little furry friends to woo the affection of children in our nation’s capital, and then pull the pandas away? Friends don’t do you like that. Or is this some kind of smart weapon? The clever Chinese divert Capital power couples’ attention, as they soothe the heartache of their panda-loving children, and at that moment the Chinese sneak off with all our money. Oh, shoot, they already
got that…

And what about little Tai Shan? Doesn’t he have rights? Can’t the president pardon the guy or offer him asylum? I heard Tai Shan was caught using Twitter (which the Chinese LOVE), asking what kind of country this has become that a fella can no longer find a lawyer to keep him from being swept off to a Chinese camp.

Yes, Tai Shan, what kind of country has this become? China says don’t meet with a Buddhist monk (His Holiness the Dalai Lama) and the Commander in Chief says, who? China buys half of the former Soviet’s Cold War arsenal (maybe not half), aims it towards the Pacific, and what do we do? Offer the remainders of a 9-year-old arms deal to Taiwan. And worst of all, we are caught in a game of “now you see him, now you don’t” with the cute and cuddly giant panda, at the mercy of puppet
masters in Beijing.

This indignity must end. Please President Obama, if you can pardon a turkey, please oh please save our DC-native panda. For the sake of our children, and our children’s children…

Stephen J. Yates was deputy assistant to Vice President Cheney and currently is president of DC Asia Advisory.