KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and China have confirmed a joint effort to conduct a new round of research on panda protection in conjunction with Chinese Premier Li Qiang’s visit to Malaysia.

A Malaysia-China joint statement released today at the end of Premier Li’s visit said the effort is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations and strengthen scientific research cooperation.

“Both leaders expect to achieve progress in this field,” the statement read.

The “Panda Diplomacy” has strengthened bilateral relations between Malaysia and China and brought significant benefits through several recognitions to Malaysia, besides enhancing the reputation of Zoo Negara.

Giant pandas Fu Wa and Feng Yi, which China lent to Malaysia on May 21, 2014 in celebration of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations, subsequently gave birth to three cubs: Nuan Nuan on Aug 18, 2015, Yi Yi on Jan 14, 2018, and Sheng Yi on May 30, 2021.

The pair Fu Wa and Feng Yi, born on Aug 23, 2006, at the Wolong Panda Centre, Sichuan, China, were renamed Xing Xing and Liang Liang.

The Giant Panda, China’s national treasure reflecting harmony, friendship and peace, has become synonymous with 5,000 years of Chinese history.

The bear is easily recognised by its large distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears and across its chubby body and it is a form of diplomatic outreach for China.

However, both the Malayan Tiger and the Giant Panda are critically endangered today due to deforestation on the part of humans, which has led to permanent habitat loss in some areas.

Their survival is threatened by poaching, illegal hunting and illegal trading; hence both nations are reported to have taken serious measures including efforts to conserve the endangered species, which risk extinction.