"China did have issues with Pandaren, and they are an important part of their player base. Can't say it'll never happen, but it isn't on the horizon."
Things have changed a lot since Pandaren were introduced, that was back in Warcraft III. The new license holder here (Netease) is said to have a better working relationship with the government and may be more able to steer new content through the local approval process. If they can get WotLK through, Pandaren should be a snap.
For that matter, there aren't really any mainland players right now (although quite a few transferred to Taiwan) and unless things get sorted out, there won't be. Servers have been closed since June 7 and will remain closed indefinitely as the various cases get sorted out. Polls show 20% or more of Chinese players are fed up and may not return to the game; WotLK is expected to be delayed beyond whatever time the servers might come up and that means we're going to continue to be wildly out of step with new content.
If things don't get worked out, Blizzard might have substantially less interest in what China has issues with and might even have an incentive to go with Pandaren to bring in new players. If things do get sorted out, Pandaren seemingly need to be addressed (according to OP) until the expansion after next -- giving plenty of time to work out any issues that might exist.
There are no physical Pandarens. There are no mentions anywhere within Alliance subculture.
True, but they were in WC III and there is some slight mention of them in Vanilla. The mention is slight, but it is placed in such a way that Horde players are almost certain to encounter it. Panda Express may be an old joke, but I thought it was interesting that it is still found in "underdev" rather than having been archived off; leaving it up keeps the rumors swirling. Granted, if wishes were horses then beggers would ride ... if
the list is accurate and if
the next expansion moves to the Maelstrom, that would put players in the right area to discover further signs of Pandaria.
Hey, look, they gave us squid faced space goats (who build spaceships, but use crossbows) on a lot less! Yes, they learned from that mistake, but that could explain why they didn't do more to seed Pandaren as a race. When Vanilla was released, they hadn't learned the lesson yet. Maelsrom is probably a more logical point to introduce Pandaren than WotLK would have been.
In practical terms, Pandaren also address some of the other problems that were mentioned in the interview: "I would worry that our classes would become less distinct and interesting, and the new stuff may not feel as cool." It opens the door to Brewmasters, but also to the whole range of oriental RPG stereotypes, even mo.... Urk! Maybe Pandaren are a really bad idea!