On March 16th, Acting Consul General Zhou Youbin attended the dinner in recognition of "the China/UK Giant Panda Project" in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle. The event was organised by the Scottish Government and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. Among over 70 attendees, there were Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs & the Environment Mr. Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Climate Change and the Environment Ms. Roseanna Cunningham, President of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland Mr. John Spence OBE, and representatives from the trade, financial and educational fields from Scotland.
First of all, Mr. Lochhead MSP mentioned that last time he was in this very hall, the First Minister Alex Salmond welcomed His Excellency Vice Premier Li Keqiang to Scotland in January where, the atmosphere during the evening was extremely. He said, the following morning, we were delighted that His Excellency was able to witness the signing of an historical agreement to loan a pair of breeding giant pandas to Edinburgh Zoo. This concluded five long years of negotiations between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and their Chinese counterparts, the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association. I think it is safe to say that a special welcome will given to Tian Tian and Yangguang the pair of breeding giant pandas which have been identified to make their new home at Edinburgh Zoo. Edinburgh Zoo, in my mind, is the ideal location to house China's most iconic symbol due to the world leading research, breeding programmes and animal conservation to which the Zoo can rightly boast.
However, this project is not just simply about two very special animals coming from China to Edinburgh Zoo. There are wider benefits for Scotland to contemplate and take forward, especially in terms of tourism, business and education. And it has been almost 20 years since giant pandas were last seen in the UK. I hope you all agree that is a great opportunity to give every pupil in Scottish education an excellent opportunity to study and see pandas up close and personal. I'm sure the enthusiasm for learning about the pandas will encourage even more schools to link to the Confucius Classroom Hubs network across Scotland, so that children can have access to learning more about Chinese language and culture.
Mr. Zhou expressed his immense pleasure to join this celebration of the signing of the agreement on conservation and research of giant pandas. It was 5 years ago when the Giant Panda Project was initiated. Many people at that time took it much unlikely for giant pandas to make their home in Edinburgh. The road to happiness is always full of hardships. With continuous efforts by various parties, the project was finally secured during the visit to the UK by the Chinese Vice-Premier HE Li Keqiang at the beginning of this year.
The Chinese people cherish very much the friendship with the Scottish people, which I think is the most important reason for the Chinese Government to approve of giant pandas Tiantian and Yangguang setting their new home at the Edinburgh Zoo. As the Ambassadors of Friendship, the couple wil undoubtedly help further promote mutual understanding between our two nations and consolidate the friendship between our two peoples.
Edinburgh is well known for its advantage in the field of life sciences and the Edinburgh Zoo is richly experienced in the wildlife conservation, education and research. I strongly believe that the Giant Panda Project is a win-win model. It will do good to the giant panda species, researching for the better disease treatment, breeding and survival in the wild. Meanwhile it can help the Edinburgh Zoo become one of the most popular and leading zoos in the world.
The name Tiantian means sweet and Yangguang means sunshine, which can be regarded as symbols of the good sentiments between our two peoples and brighter future for our two nations. The Consulate as always would like to join hands with the cencerned departments and institutions to make the Giant Panda Project a complete success and further promote the friendly and cooperative relationship between China and Scotland to a new height.
The celebration was prevailed with an atmosphere of rejoicing and festivity. Many guests expressed their eagerness to see Tiantian and Yangguang and willingness to offer their biggest support to the Giant Panda Project.