Vincent Boland: The world cannot afford for US and China to be at loggerheads

The upcoming Apec summit presents an opportunity for Xi and Biden to approach relations with realism and sobriety

Xi Jinping, the most powerful leader of the Chinese Communist Party since Mao, will attend the summit, and is expected to meet Joe Biden, the US president Picture: Getty

An unexpected and intriguing chapter in the annals of diplomacy is drawing to a close. More than half a century after they were first employed as emissaries of a cunning and all-powerful Mao Zedong, the giant pandas that remain in Western zoos are due to be returned to China over the next few years.

And when the last one leaves, it will mark the definitive end of the era of soft and cuddly Chinese power.