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A giant panda plays at Shenshuping Panda Base of China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda on September 12, 2020. Photo: Liu Guoxing/VCG via Getty Images

Giant pandas are no longer endangered after decades of conservation efforts, Chinese officials announced this week.

Why it matters: China's efforts over the last half-century to expand giant pandas' habitats helped drive their population in the wild up to 1,800, according to CNN.

  • The species will be re-classified as vulnerable, Cui Shuhong, director of the Department of Natural Ecological Protection of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said at a press conference this week.

The big picture: China's announcement comes five years after the International Union for Conservation of Nature removed giant pandas from the endangered species list.

  • Many Chinese experts were reluctant to do the same, arguing that it was misleading and would cause complacency in China, according to The Guardian.
  • Since the 1970s, Chinese officials have worked to drive up the species' numbers, creating nature reserves in areas where bamboo is plentiful.
  • In 2017, China created a sprawling reserve — 10,476-square-miles — that is three times the size of Yellowstone National Park, per CNN.

What they're saying: "China has established a relatively complete nature reserves system," Cui said.

  • "Large areas of natural ecosystems have been systematically and completely protected, and wildlife habitats have been effectively improved."

Of note: The number of some other rare and endangered species, such as Siberian tigers, Amur leopards, Asian elephants and crested ibis, have also "increased significantly," Cui added.

Go deeper

Oct 12, 2021 - World

LinkedIn's unanswered questions about China censorship

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

After blocking the profiles of several U.S. journalists, including mine, from its China-based website, LinkedIn has repeatedly avoided answering key questions about the censorship.

Why it matters: LinkedIn has promised transparency to its users regarding its China operations.

Biden headed to the Hill as Democrats struggle to reach deal on spending bills

President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leave a House Democratic Caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 in Washington, DC. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday morning will meet with the House Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill to provide an update about his Build Back Better agenda and the bipartisan infrastructure deal, according to a White House official.

Driving the news: The meeting comes as Democrats struggle to reach a deal on the spending bills. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN on Sunday that Democrats were planning to reach an agreement on the infrastructure package this week, before Biden's departure to Europe, which is slated for later on Thursday.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
45 mins ago - Economy & Business

Why it's so hard to tax wealth

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The wealth tax that wasn't a wealth tax isn't even a tax, now. The Democrats had a meticulously constructed 107-page proposal to pay for a large chunk of their spending plans with a tax on billionaires, but it died ignobly on Wednesday, the same day it was unveiled.

Why it matters: The dream of a wealth tax will never die as it so neatly generates revenue by reducing inequality. But there are three main reasons why that dream is likely to remain just a dream for the foreseeable future.