Chinese will not panda to rift theory
From DAVID WALLEN, Europe Editor, in London
THE Chinese Embassy yesterday gave an assurance the summoning home of one of China's unofficial diplomats - the panda Ming Ming - had nothing to do with difficulties over Hong Kong.
And in the Foreign Office too there was laughter at suggestions in The Times Ming Ming was being summoned home as a ''victim of strained diplomatic relations''.
Ming Ming was taken to Britain two years ago under a loan agreement with the Chinese Government in an attempt to mate her with Berlin Zoo's Bau Bau.
But relations between Bau Bau and Ming Ming were as friendly as those between Chris Patten and Lu Ping.
''The return of Ming Ming has nothing at all to do with politics,'' said a Chinese Embassy spokesman.
''We loaned this panda for two years to London Zoo and they tried very hard to get her pregnant.
''Now the time is due for her to return to China because this animal is a treasure of China.'' A Foreign Office spokesman agreed: ''There is no diplomatic side to this.''