A promotional video for the Chengdu "Pambassador" program depicts an apparently Chinese-foreign wedding ceremony—with a surprise ending.
In the video, a Caucasian man is standing at what appears to be a wedding ceremony, presumably about to be married. He is being addressed by what appears to be a Catholic priest who asks if the groom takes "her" to be his "lawful wedded wife."
"Yes, I do," the groom says. "Now you can hold her hand," replies the priest, as the camera pans out to reveal the audience of mostly Asian attendees and—gasp—the "bride," a panda sitting at the head of the aisle, munching on bamboo.
Is Chengdu promoting human-animal marriage? Or perhaps bestiality? Probably not. We're only speculating, but our guess is that somebody thought that filming a wedding ceremony would be an interesting, humorous, and creative way to symbolize the love that humans allegedly feel for pandas.
We could also ponder the other irritating elements in the film—Why is it a male human marrying a female animal? Why is a panda engaging in a Catholic wedding ceremony? Why are the two non-Chinese actors Caucasian? And on and on. But we'll spare you.
Sixteen semi-finalists will attend the final round of the competition in Chengdu in late October. Three will be chosen as Pambassadors for one year.
The panda marriage video is only one of a handful of promotional videos for the Pambassador program.
The others are comparativeley less quirky.
Footage from Panda Awareness Week, when dozens of panda-costumed performers danced in London's streets prior to the Olympics this past summer, is featured in two other promotional clips.
In the meantime, the English-language edition of the People's Daily seems to be doing its best to dissuade would-be Pambassador applicants with job descriptions like this (emphasis ours):
They will clean panda enclosures, bathe the animals, make food for them, care for cubs, collect bamboo for their food, have breakfast with the pandas and learn to smell their feces to determine whether the animal is healthy.
And yes, we've already commented on the irony of using Facebook—a site that's officially blocked countrywide—to promote the city.
Chengdu is frequently featured as the "hometown" of the pandas in Chinese promotional campaigns abroad—generally considered part of China's bid to increase its soft power worldwide.