Denis Foynes – China’s Panda Diplomacy program has sparked a political rift in Belgium being coined “Pandagate”.
The dispute has been drawn down the country’s linguistic and political divide between northern Flemish-speaking Flanders and southern French-speaking Wallonia.
It started when it was revealed that the two bear’s on loan from China would go to a private zoo in the French-speaking region of the country.
Beijing offered the bears to Belgium during a visit from the country’s French speaking Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.
The decision has left the Dutch-speaking region of the country disappointed, especially the overlooked historic zoo in Antwerp. “All in all we are rather surprised that the prime minister did not think of us,” a spokesman from the 170 year old zoo stated. “We should have been able to count on the support of the prime minister,” he added.
The four-year-old male and female pandas, Xinhui and Haohao, will be on loan in the country for 15 years and will arrive in spring 2014.