Pandas are beautiful creatures, as Dr Alf knows from personal experience, and they are powerful diplomatic symbols as well.
The recent episode with a Chinese Panda feigning pregnancy to get itself moved into a cooler air conditioned environment where it would be treated better, given more bamboo shoots to eat and be showered with it’s favorite foods shows that they are also intelligent and cunning.
The ability to manipulate feelings demonstrates the capacity of the animal kingdom to surprise us with the magic of creation although people like Sir David Attenborough and Professor Richard Dawkins would attribute this to a series of arcane and random processes.
The Chinese Government wants the world to see itself as like the Pandas that Dr Alf and his wife cared for (fluffy, lovable, cuddly and harmless devourers of nothing more than bamboo shoots).
We need to learn to distinguish between how Pandas are, the nature of the Chinese Government and how the people are in that enormous country.
Making the mistake of equating all three to the characteristics of the Panda is not one we in the West can afford.