BEIJING – China will send five tigers as “friendship envoys” to North Korea, a provincial government website said on Thursday, even as reclusive Pyongyang declared it would restart a nuclear plant and expelled UN inspectors.
The three Siberian tigers from the northeast city of Dalian and two Bengal tigers from Sichuan in the southwest, were cleared for shipment on April 9, the quarantine bureau of Liaoning province said on its website.
They will be sent to a North Korea as “friendship envoys”, it said.
China joined the UN Security Council in condemning a rocket launch by North Korea earlier this month, but has otherwise refrained from publicly chiding its ally and neighbour.
Chinese analysts say their country is trying to avoid escalating the situation or losing diplomatic influence with North Korea.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu again called for calm in a press conference in Beijing on Thursday after North Korea expelled nuclear inspectors.
Two yaks and four camels sent by the same Dalian zoo in February had successfully cleared 60 days of quarantine in North Korea and were now being viewed by North Korean tourists, the Liaoning Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau said.
And a Beijing opera troupe performed during the “April Spring Friendship Art Festival” in Pyongyang on Thursday in the first show of Beijing opera in the decades-long history of show.
(Reporting by Lucy Hornby and Yu Le; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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