Two giant pandas to arrive in Australia from China

09:35, October 31, 2009      

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When Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang announced upon his arrival in Australia on Thursday that China would send a pair of world-famed giant pandas to Australia, it was a pleasant surprise to ordinary Australians and aroused amazement across the nation.

Philippa McDonald, a TV reporter with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), just could not believe it when she heard the news.

Then after a few long seconds to digest the news and a deep breath, she said slowly and joyfully that the Australian people "love pandas."

"It is a wonderful gift and a wonderful gesture from China to Australia," she quickly added.

China and Australia have made remarkable progress on bilateral trade and investment relations in the past few years. China is now the largest trading partner for Australia, with bilateral trade reaching almost 60 billion U.S. dollars in 2008.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who can speak fluent Mandarin, expressed a willingness to consolidate the relationship with China while meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last week on the sidelines of the Fourth East Asia Summit, held in Hua Hin, Thailand.

The Australian leader said his country's relationship with China is of strategic importance, both economically and politically.

Apparently, McDonald, the TV reporter, shared that opinion.

"This (China's gift of pandas) further shows the importance of bilateral relations," she said.

After a few calls to the Adelaide zoo in southern Australia, which would host the giant pandas, McDonald said the zoo had confirmed the news and the staff were eagerly anticipating the arrival of the animals.

"I'm sure we'll look after them well," she said, half serious, half joking.

Chris West, chief of the Adelaide zoo, told Xinhua earlier that it was of significant symbolic meaning for China to send two giant pandas, which are treated like national treasures by the Chinese people, to Australia.

It was a great honor for the Adelaide zoo to host the two giant pandas, he added.

West said local Australians were looking forward to the arrival of the pandas and he had received many requests for interviews from media. Even the online home page of the zoo had witnessed record clicks, he said.

The two pandas, named Wang Wang and Fu Ni, were meant to enhance understanding and friendship between China and Australia, which was also one of the more important aims of Vice Premier Li's visit to Australia.

Li began his three-day official visit to Australia late Thursday. He is visiting Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane as part of a three-nation tour which will also take him to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Source: Xinhua
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