When China’s Vice-President Wang Qishan attends Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony in Tokyo later this month, what diplomatic gift will he bring that will be fit for the new monarch?

The panda, China’s national treasure, has been used as a diplomatic gift for centuries. Panda diplomacy can be traced to the year 685 when Tang Dynasty Empress Wu Zetian gifted a pair to Japan’s Emperor Tenmu. Chairman Mao Zedong marked then United States President Richard Nixon’s landmark trip to China in 1972 with another pair.

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