Panda Nation examines the giant panda and its fascinating qualities as an animal while tracing the story of its rise from obscurity to global prominence as a symbol of nature and the nation of China. The book places this story in the historical and political context of the tumultuous history of the People’s Republic of China. The emergence of the giant panda as a national icon was made possible in part by its own striking natural appearance and allure, but ultimately was the result of China’s effort to define itself as a nation. As the subject of government-directed science and popular nationalism, the giant panda’s rose in tandem with the dramatic ascent of China to a position of broad global influence. As a bridge to nature, the panda also integrated urban centers with local officials and ethnic minority villagers in China’s remote regions. As a point of pride, the panda symbolized cultural and economic shifts before it was used as a diplomatic tool. It became an expression of nationalism, a tool for diplomacy, and a means for international cooperation and scientific exchange.
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