Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd R), his wife Peng Liyuan, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (1st R) visit the Panda Garden at the Berlin Zoo in Berlin, capital of Germany, July 5, 2017. Xi and Merkel attended the opening ceremony of the Panda Garden at the Berlin Zoo on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng)
BERLIN, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday attended the official opening ceremony of the Panda Garden at Zoo Berlin.
Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, were warmly welcomed by Merkel when they arrived at the zoo. They walked to the Panda Garden together along a pathway decorated with red lanterns.
At the opening ceremony, Xi said he was delighted to see Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, two pandas from China's Sichuan Province, make their debut to the German public and have a new and pretty home here.
"It is of great significance to restart China-Germany giant panda protection and research cooperation upon the 45th anniversary of the two countries' diplomatic ties," he said.
Xi expressed the hope that Meng Meng and Jiao Qing will serve as new ambassadors promoting friendship between the two peoples, and extended gratitude to the Chinese and German experts and staff for their hard work.
For her part, Merkel said the German people have made great efforts to provide a comfortable home for the long-awaited pandas.
The arrival of the two special envoys showcases the new development of Germany-China ties, Merkel said, adding that Germany will take this opportunity to deepen bilateral cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
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.
Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, sent to Germany on a 15-year conservation and breeding program, 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. The panda died in 2012.
Starting Thursday, visitors to Zoo Berlin will be able to see Meng Meng and Jiao Qing in their new garden, which occupies 5,500 square meters in area.