- 一般財団法人 アジア政経学会
- アジア研究 (ISSN:00449237)
- vol.55, no.3, pp.1-17, 2009-07-31 (Released:2014-09-15)
The idea that pandas are the “national symbol” of China is no more than a historically invented notion. However, even within international politics today, debates concerning whether or not these animals are “Chinese” have arisen as a political issue through their connection with the so-called “Taiwan problem” or “Tibet problem”.How is it that pandas have become embroiled in such political controversy, despite not being regarded as important for international politics from a realist perspective? In answering this question, it might be meaningful to reconsider what factors have made the Chinese state legitimate within international society. Therefore, in this article I have tried to reveal how pandas have become a Chinese national symbol, referring to the official archives of the Republic of China opened on Taipei, Nanjing, Chongqing and Chengdu.The Central Propaganda Department of the Chinese Nationalist Party first presented pandas to the USA as a part of its “propaganda diplomacy” in 1941, when this animal first became a symbol of friendship between the two countries. This paper reveals that the Nationalist regime used this “panda diplomacy” to forge friendly relations with the USA, while at the same time as attempting to show the “civilized” nature of the Chinese state. Before then, the Chinese government had taken little interest in pandas. This paper also points out that such “panda diplomacy” had been initiated between 1928 and 1949 in the following four historical contexts: (i) the rising significance of the south-west region for the Nationalist regime in the War of Resistance Against Japan; (ii) the rising consciousness of sovereignty in China that insisted that natural resources, including pandas, must be controlled by the Chinese themselves; (iii) the adaptation to the idea of animal protection which had become a criterion of civilized countries; (iv) the demand for widespread support from the US people under wartime diplomacy.In conclusion, I would like to stress that the process by which pandas became a national symbol was nothing more than a process involving China’s adaptation to international society, in which the handling of these animals had the potential of constituting a factor in China’s “external legitimacy”. I believe that this situation is still relevant in regards to the legitimacy of the Chinese state in contemporary East Asia.