Malaysia plans ‘orangutan diplomacy’, inspired by China’s ‘panda diplomacy’

MMalaysia plans to offer orangutans to its main buyers of palm oil, a product long accused of destroying the habitats of endangered apes.

The world’s second-largest palm producer is taking a cue from China’s ‘panda diplomacy’ and plans to donate orange-haired mammals to some of its trading partners, including the European Union, as part of the “strategic diplomatic approach” of the country.

Learn more: How pandas are becoming a tool of Chinese diplomacy

“This will be a manifestation of how Malaysia preserves wildlife and ensures the sustainability of our forests, especially in the oil palm plantation landscape,” said Johari Abdul Ghani, Minister of Plantations and Commodities of Malaysia. the Southeast Asian nation, in an article on X. prove to the world that Malaysia is committed to biodiversity conservation, he said.

This idea follows accusations and restrictions from some palm oil importers, such as Europe, that its cultivation destroys rainforests, drives the extinction of endangered animals and is linked to abuses in work. Environmental groups have stepped up their control over the crop, while the EU introduces rules to prevent products responsible for deforestation from being sold in stores.

“Malaysia should not take a defensive stance on palm oil,” Johari said. “Instead, we need to show the world that Malaysia is a sustainable palm oil producer and is committed to safeguarding forests as well as environmental sustainability.”

Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s top palm oil producers who collectively account for around 85% of global production, have pledged to work together to counter “anti-palm oil campaigns” launched by some Western countries. Palm oil is a versatile ingredient found in products such as pizza, instant noodles and shampoo.

Orangutans are found in the rainforests of the islands of Borneo and Sumatra in Southeast Asia, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. The great apes are critically endangered – with their population estimated at around 120,000 – and threatened by rapid deforestation mainly due to palm oil and other agricultural plantations, the organization said.