US First Lady Michelle Obama has concluded her week-long visit to China.
On the last day of her trip, Michelle Obama, along with her daughters Sasha and Malia and her mother, visited Chengdu Panda Base in Sichuan province in Southwest China.
The 50-year-old Michelle took to her travel journal to share her experience of the last leg of her China visit, which was centred on fostering cultural and educational exchanges between US and China.
"Today is the last day of my trip, and I couldn't leave China without seeing the Chengdu Panda Base," Mrs. Obama wrote in her journal describing the place as "important" in the world.
The Chengdu Panda Base is currently home to approximately 50 pandas, ranging in age from infancy to full-grown adults. It is the only place in the world where the endangered animals can be found in their natural habitat and which is also a centre for research, conservation and breeding of pandas.
During her visit, Michelle Obama saw giant pandas, red pandas as well as baby pandas as young as eight months old.
"They were so tiny -- like stuffed animals -- and later, I got the chance to hold one of these little guys," an overwhelmed first lady wrote.
Besides telling her panda sojourn, Michelle Obama also explained about how China has reached out to other nations through its panda diplomacy tradition, which dates back to seventh century.
"Since the 1950s, China has given pandas to countries like France, Japan, Great Britain, Mexico, and the United States. It's a goodwill offering – a way to reach out and build a connection between two countries and their people," she said.
China first offered America pandas in 1972 following the visit of President Nixon and the first lady.
"On that trip, after Mrs. Pat Nixon mentioned how much she enjoyed seeing pandas at a Chinese zoo, the Chinese Premier offered a pair of pandas to the people of the United States. The original pandas – Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing – were housed at the National Zoo, and Chinese pandas have lived there ever since," Michelle Obama said.
"In fact, just last fall, a new baby panda – Bao Bao, which means "treasure" or "precious" – was born there, giving new life to our growing relationship with China."
The first lady said that such small gesture as panda diplomacy is quite instructive in today's scenario.
"Even for nations as big, complex and different as the United States and China, small gestures can mean a great deal. They can bring people together and help them form bonds that can stretch across the globe," she concluded.