On October 9, 1994, the United States and China released the first joint issue stamp intended to recognize friendship between the two nations. Delegates from both the United States and China agreed that the subject of the stamps should be uncontroversial and apolitical given that politics of the United States and China are fundamentally different.
It was determined that the stamps would feature the black-necked crane, a native bird of China and the whooping crane, a native bird of North America. Native and rare to each country, conservation efforts had been established to save these endangered birds. The Chinese consider the crane to be a symbol of peace and friendship; thus, the use of cranes as the subject held significant symbolic value.