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China to deliver two pandas to Indonesia

By Elizabeth Shim
China to deliver two pandas to Indonesia
China is launching a charm offensive and possibly mending ties with Indonesia with a gift of two pandas. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 15 (UPI) -- China is wooing Indonesia with "panda diplomacy" and is expected to deliver a gift of two of the animals next week.

Indonesian news service Kompas reported Friday the pandas will be taken to the Taman Safari zoo in Bogor, West Java, about two hours outside Jakarta, the capital.

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Beijing's foray into soft power comes at a time when tensions have been building between China and Indonesia over Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea, Singapore's Straits Times reported.

Indonesia surprised China when it named waters in its Exclusive Economic Zone the North Natuna Sea in July.

Beijing subsequently asked Jakarta to drop the name.

Indonesia is the 15th country to receive a gift of pandas from China, a species that is no longer on the endangered list but remains vulnerable because of climate change.

An official with Indonesia's environment ministry told local press the country has "already completed preparations for breeding temperature and have a supply of bamboo ready."

China has strict requirements for pandas, the official said.

China and Indonesia enjoy strong trade and investment ties, and China Development Bank is expected to provide loans for 75 percent of the construction cost for the Jakarta-Bandung railway, according to reports.

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The railway is a high-speed train project that has been given priority by Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

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