No longer will China use big, fuzzy ambasadors to improve their admittedly shaky international reputation. The practice of panda PR is at least 1,300 years old, beginning in the Tang dynasty when two pandas were sent to a Japanese princess. And who could forget Hsing Hsing and Ling Ling, given to Richard Nixon at the close of his 1972 summit with the Chinese? There's a little ying and yang for you: America's most troll-like president with some of the cutest mammals sweet, sweet evolution has yet to produce.
It is, in the end, the cuteness of pandas that make them so useful on the diplomat circuit. I defy you to watch this video and then not want to make some serious trade concessions:
Annex Taiwan? Sure, if I can get some facetime with Captain Adorable there.
While China will no longer be giving their pandas away, you can still rent them. A year lease on a shiny '07 Panda will cost about $1 million US, but be warned- if Ling Ling gets knocked up, you'll have to pay extra.