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Xi says to join Merkel in opening Panda garden in Berlin zoo

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-07-04 15:44

Xi says to join Merkel in opening Panda garden in Berlin zoo

Jiao Qing, a panda bear, arrives at the Berlin airport in Berlin, Germany, June 24, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

BERLIN - Chinese President Xi Jinping said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will jointly open a garden in Zoo Berlin for the pair of giant pandas China has recently sent to Germany.

"I hope this pair of giant pandas ... will serve as envoys of China-Germany friendship," he said in a signed article published Tuesday on mainstream German media before he travels to the European country for a state visit and the upcoming Hamburg summit of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies.

He pointed out that people-to-people exchanges play an important role in elevating China-Germany relations to a higher level.

"We need to ... deepen cooperation in education, culture, science and technology, tourism, health, think tanks, media, football and other fields, implement visa-related and other facilitation measures and bring our two peoples closer to each other," he said.

Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, the two pandas that arrived in Germany last month, are getting accustomed to their new environment quite fast, according to Yin Hong, a Chinese panda keeper who accompanied the pair all the way from the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu to Berlin.

The Berlin zoo is scheduled to hold an opening ceremony of the refurbished Panda Garden on Wednesday.

Meng Meng, which means "sweet dream" in Chinese, is a four-year-old female panda, while Jiao Qing, meaning darling, is a seven-year-old male. They are sent to Germany on a 15-year conservation and breeding program.

"Obviously, they feel very good here. You can see them climbing around inside. ... You just have the feeling that they are not strangers," said Dr. Andreas Ochs, a senior veterinarian at the zoo.

The pair are not the first pandas given or loaned to the European country by China. The last panda Berlin had was Bao Bao, which was sent to Berlin in 1980 as a state gift from China. It died in 2012.

The pandas "are envoys of the friendship between China and Germany," said Ochs. "We are very proud to be able to house the animals here, who are a symbol of the friendship between Germany and China."

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