National secret: Obama’s role in "panda diplomacy" with China

“If President Obama were to mention the National Zoo’s request to extend Tai Shan’s stay to at least late-2010 (or even later) to President Hu during one of his discussions, we think there might be a good chance that President Hu would agree, purely as a diplomatic goodwill gesture,” the State Department official wrote from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, according to emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Taken together, dozens of pages of State Department correspondence concerning the famous zoo resident provide an inside look at “panda diplomacy” at work. Indeed, officials even talked of getting “buy in” from the White House and how letting Tai Shan stay in Washington might further improve U.S.-Chinese relations.