Panda Diplomacy

By Kaleena Fraga

In 1972, President Nixon made history by visiting China, the first sitting president to do so.

During the visit, he and his wife, Pat, had the opportunity to see some Chinese pandas. Later, eating dinner with Zhou En-Lai, Pat noticed a cigarette box with pandas on the front.

“Aren’t those cute?” she said. “I love them.”

Zhou looked at the cigarette box and nodded. “I’ll get you some,” he said.

“Cigarettes?” Pat responded.

“Pandas!”

Sure enough, China sent a pair of pandas to the United States, causing Pat Nixon to quip that “Panda-monium” had struck Washington D.C.

(Thanks to https://www.nixonfoundation.org and John A. Farrell’s Richard Nixon: A Life for this tidbit)

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