SAUCY and suggestive commercial exploitation of panda images may become a thing of the past in the pandas' home city if a planned law is passed.
The bid for legislation to protect panda images comes in the wake of some controversial uses of panda iconography which got Chinese citizens hot under the collar.
Self-styled panda artist Zhao Bandi outraged many with his Bandi-Panda fashion show at China Fashion Week in Beijing earlier this month, sparking nationwide concerns that the so-called conceptual art creation abused the panda's usual image of being friendly and cute.
Zhao, who wears a cap that makes him look like a panda cub on his head, is frequently accompanied at media events by a clutch of scantily-clad panda girls - dressed like Playboy bunny girls but with panda ears.
"I'm a king in the panda's world. You see these panda girls are my concubines," he said in an interview with sina.com, a popular web portal in China on Thursday.
At the Beijing fashion parade Zhao used panda imagery in each of his creations. He said he used panda images as "a medium to present different clothing styles of Chinese social classes and social issues."
"There is no meaningful link between the panda and these figures that Zhao depicts in his fashion designs. He just uses the panda as a commercial stunt," was a comment typical of many found on Internet messageboards.
The Chengdu Municipal Committee of the National People's Congress, in west China's Sichuan Province, yesterday confirmed it was considering the planned law, drawn up by the municipal bureaus of forestry, parks and woods.
If passed, it would become the world's first panda law.
Zhao told the media that it was "unexpected" news to hear that his fashion concept might be outlawed by legislation.
"To me, human beings are always more important than pandas. I have no intention of making fun of pandas. I am a fan of pandas," he said.
"People deem giant pandas to be China's state treasure. I am also a treasure for China and no less significant than the panda," said Zhao, who prefers to be called pandaman.
"Zhao's commercial stunt has prompted us to accelerate the drafting of the legislation but regulating commercial activities that harm the pandas' image is not the only concern," said Zhu Shang, an official with the Chengdu Forestry Bureau.