- Bears arrived at the World Cup’s host nation to facilitate research, but it is also an example of “panda diplomacy”, when China uses its iconic bears to strengthen bilateral ties
- Each week, this page presents an interesting story that we have adjusted to be more accessible for all English learners
Read the following text, and answer questions 1-9 below:
 As the 2022 World Cup nears, two giant pandas from China have arrived in Qatar. They will spend the foreseeable future in an enclosed environment designed to be like their natural home. China will fly 800kg of fresh bamboo to Qatar every week to feed the two bears.
 The bears arrived at the World Cup’s host nation in part to facilitate research. But it is also an example of “panda diplomacy”, which describes when China sends its iconic bears to foreign countries to strengthen bilateral ties.
 One of the pandas is a three-year-old female named Si Hai, while the other is a four-year-old male named Jing Jing. However, now that they have arrived in Qatar, the male will be renamed Suhail and the female Soraya. Both are Arabic names.
 Suhail is the name of one of the most visible stars in the Gulf region. Soraya is the Arabic word for a star cluster called the Pleiades in English, also known as the Seven Sisters. The transfer of the pandas is the first example of “panda diplomacy” in the Middle East.
 The pandas lived at a research centre in Sichuan province. Both were born in separately developed panda reserves and were moved to the most recent centre in Sichuan, where they grew up. Si Hai weighs 70kg while Jing Jing is 120kg.
 After spending a month in quarantine and undergoing a check for diseases, Si Hai and Jing Jing took a special plane to Qatar. The bears are accompanied by several teams of Chinese experts who will help facilitate their transition and teach Qatari experts.
 The panda diplomacy may have started at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics when Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani attended the opening ceremony. Afterwards, President Xi Jinping said he was open to starting panda diplomacy with Qatar.
 But in May 2020, China and Qatar already signed a cooperation agreement to “promote the protection of endangered species and biodiversity in the two countries”. When the panda transfer was announced on September 27, Zhou Jian, China’s ambassador, said: “This is a gift presented by the 1.4 billion Chinese people for the Qatar World Cup, and will surely become a new symbol of China-Qatar friendship.”
Source: South China Morning Post, October 20
1. In paragraph 1, which country did the pandas depart from?
2. According to paragraph 2, the purpose of “panda diplomacy” is to ...
A. improve panda conservation.
B. build better relations between two countries.
C. promote the 2022 World Cup.
D. speed up research on giant pandas.
3. What does the “host nation” in paragraph 2 refer to?
4. Decide whether the following statements are True, False, or the information is Not Given in paragraphs 3 and 4. Blacken ONE circle only for each statement. (4 marks)
(i) The female panda is older than the male panda.
(ii) The male panda will be named after a star once it arrives in Qatar.
(iii) This is the first time China is sending pandas to Qatar.
(iv) Chinese authorities helped to choose the new names for the pandas.
5. According to paragraph 6, what procedures did the pandas have to undergo before they could be transported to Qatar?
6. Find a word in paragraph 6 that means “a period of change”.
7. What mode of transport did the pandas take?
8. What agreement did China and Qatar sign before the two pandas were transferred?
9. What does “this” in paragraph 8 refer to?
4. (i) F; (ii) T; (iii) T; (iv) NG
5. They had to spend a month in quarantine and undergo a check for diseases.
8. a cooperation agreement to “promote the protection of endangered species and biodiversity in the two countries”
9. the pandas / the panda transfer (any one)