|The combo photo taken on March 30, 2014 shows Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd R, front), his wife Peng Liyuan (4th R, front), Belgian King Philippe (2nd R, front), Queen Mathilde (front R) and Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo (5th R, front) visiting the panda house at the Pairi Daiza zoo in Brugelette, Belgium. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)|
BRUGELETTE, Belgium, March 30 -- Chinese President Xi Jinping and Belgian King Philippe, along with their spouses, inaugurated on Sunday a panda house in a local zoo as a move to display friendship between the two sides.
Late last month, as part of a joint scientific research by China and Belgium, a pair of giant pandas were sent from China's Sichuan Province to their new home in the Pairi Daizi zoo in Belgium, some 60 km southwest of downtown Brussels.
Hao Hao, the female, and Xing Hui, the male, are both four years old. They will stay in the country for the next 15 years.
Watching the pandas during the ceremony, the Chinese president said it appeared that they had already got accustomed to their new home.
Pandas are considered envoys of friendship, and their arrival in Belgium has demonstrated the Chinese people's deep feelings for the Belgian people, Xi added.
"I hope Belgian kids will love Xing Hui and Hao Hao, and develop a fondness for China and the Chinese culture as well," he said.
In a signed article published on the Belgian paper Le Soir Saturday, Xi said the China-Europe friendship and cooperation is a choice of the age, and a decision made by the 1.8 billion Chinese and Europeans.
That choice has been best proved by Xing Hui and Hao Hao, two pandas travelling half way across the world from China to settle down in the Pairi Daizi Zoo in Belgium.
"Their names, meaning light and goodness, demonstrate our confidence in and best wishes for China-Europe friendship and cooperation," Xi wrote.
The Chinese president arrived in Brussels Sunday for a state visit to Belgium, the first ever made by a Chinese head of state to the country in 27 years.