One major byproduct of the state visit of Chinese President Hu to Washington was a new agreement that will keep the Chinese giant pandas at the Washington National Zoo for another five years. Tian Tian, a 13 year old male and Mei Xiang, a 12 year old female have remained one of the greatest attractions at the Washington zoo since 1972 when Chinese pandas represented the new era of friendship between the U.S. and China that started during the Nixon Administration years.
The giant pandas are on lease to the zoo where the $2.5 million in payments helps to fund a panda conservation program in China. Pandas remain an endangered species with poor survival rates for offspring. The original pandas sent to Washington, Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing had five offspring, all of which eventually died in captivity.
A smiling President Hu warmly greeted average America citizens offering his good wishes to the American people, however many tougher issues such as trade and human rights will add to a more serious atmosphere in Washington. But, for today, the little agreement breakthrough on the panda lease was viewed as a negotiation breakthrough of sorts.