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A popular K-pop girl band has stirred controversy in China after its members were accused of mishandling a baby panda on their reality TV show. The stars of Blackpink were filmed this month cuddling three-month-old cub Fu Bao at a South Korean zoo.
Why the fuss?
Pandas are an emblem of national pride to many in China, the only country where the animals live outside captivity. China loans the animals to countries worldwide as a way of strengthening diplomatic ties. This is where Fu Bao comes in. He was born in July to two giant pandas who arrived in South Korea from Sichuan province in 2016 as part of China's "panda diploma. Last week Fu Bao, meaning "lucky treasure", was introduced to an adoring public for the first time. What reaction has there beenChinese media and online commentators accused Blackpink's members of putting the panda at risk of harm.
The China Daily newspaper said there was "a risk of transmitting zoonotic slotxo infections as some of the members own pet dogs and cats". Others said the girls wore too much make-up and touched the panda's mother without wearing masks and gloves. Weibo, China's version of Twitter, saw millions of views on posts using the hashtag "Blackpink touched panda cub wrongly".
"China's national treasures are in South Korea, yet Koreans are not abiding by the rules in handling them. Why are Blackpink privileged?," one user fumed. Someone else called on Chinese authorities to "bring our national treasures back", while another urged the band members to "apologise publicly". "I don't understand the lack of common sense at this Korean zoo," one wrote. The controversy intensified when a Chinese wildlife group got involved.