China’s concern for stray elephants reflects adorable national image the West cannot distort


Photo: VCG

Which animal do you think of first when you talk about China? The giant panda was a general response. Yet very recently among the global public, the thunder pandas may have been stolen by a herd of roaming wild elephants in Yunnan Province (southwest China).

Since April, these elephants left their forest home in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture and marched north. They have since become social media celebrities. Their stories, whether it is breaking into villagers’ homes, drugging themselves with fermented grains, or snuggling up to each other in sleep, touch the hearts of China and around the world. . “China’s stray elephants become international stars” headlined the Associated Press on June 8, which noted that “the world’s main media chronicles the herd” and “Twitter and YouTube are full of clips of their various antics.”

The New York Times reported that “they devoured trucks full of corn and pineapples left behind by government officials.” The Guardian reported that they had eaten entire fields of corn and destroyed barns. To the surprise of the Chinese people, this Western media has shown a 180 degree change from their biased slander and long-standing harsh tones. The elephant stories have been arguably their sweetest media coverage of China in recent years. There is almost no nit-picking or sarcasm, and the majority of reports are filled with new, curious, and relaxed tones.

The reason? Perhaps because in these episodes they can barely find the slightest trace of the so-called Chinese threat theory.

For some people in the United States or Europe, it can be hard to imagine that the Chinese could be so patient and friendly towards uninvited wild elephants. Police evacuated and blocked several roads to make room for the herd. The government has announced that it will give residents full compensation for any damage caused by elephants. And people were thrilled to see that a baby elephant was born during the migration.

Through the “documentaries” of the 15 elephants, audiences around the world see how great China is and learn that there is a beautiful province called Yunnan. At the time of going to press, the elephants have traveled at least 500 kilometers. Japanese netizens noted that this was the distance between Tokyo and Osaka, but in China, the herd is still in the same province that it embarked on its journey months ago. In addition, some foreigners now know that metropolises in China are not limited to Beijing, Shanghai and Canton. Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, which has a spring climate all year round, is also one.

People saw China’s love and passion for animals and tourists. Even though they wreaked havoc on more than 50 hectares of farmland, no one chased them away. People even offered heaps of pineapples, bananas and corn for processing, food was used to divert them to safer areas. People have even discovered that elephants prefer corn to pineapples. When Chinese police met foreign journalists, they greeted visitors with warm greetings and asked with smiles, “Are you here to see the elephants?

In addition, people have vividly noticed the technological strength of China. To protect the elephants, Yunnan, a province bordering China, sent a 360-person task force with 76 cars and nine drones to track their routes.

It seems that the unexpected wild animal expedition accidentally became a cool calling card for China. They indirectly introduced the cities they passed through as well as a real China. Their episodes reflected China’s relentless long-term efforts to protect the environment and wildlife. The population of wild Asian elephants in Yunnan has nearly doubled in the past three decades, according to Xinhua.

China is serious about protecting the environment and animals. While some Western countries still hunt dolphins, try to dump nuclear wastewater into the sea, refuse to sign the Kyoto Protocol, or withdraw from the Paris Agreement, China is quietly but firmly sticking to its vision. environmentally friendly development. When the same is happening in India, some local residents have thrown firebombs at elephants. But this is certainly not the case in China.

After witnessing this, the West may have finally lost its sense of superiority in describing China, at least in elephant terms. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the image of China has too often been distorted in Western descriptions. But this time, thanks to the elephants, the image of a real and caring China emerges – and no one can fake or distort the truth.

The migration is not over and the funny elephant stories will continue. So will the care and protection of the Chinese for them. Meanwhile, some Chinese say we should thank the elephants for finally showing the world how adorable China is. And some are inspired by elephants, saying China should show more of these stories to the world.

The author is a reporter for the Global Times.

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