China is willing to strengthen cooperation with relevant countries, including the United States, and make positive contributions to the protection of the giant panda and other endangered species, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Thursday.
Wang made the remarks at a regular press briefing when asked to comment on giant pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and their male cub Xiao Qi Ji wrapping up their stay in the United States. The pandas embarked on a journey back to China from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.
According to the cooperation agreement between China and the United States, the three pandas are returning to China as scheduled, Wang said. “We welcome them back.”
The giant panda is a rare and endangered wild animal loved by people all over the world, and it is also a friendship envoy for cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries, Wang said.
The cooperation between China and the United States on giant panda protection and research began in 1996 and China’s cooperation with the zoo began in 2000. Wang said the two sides have established a good cooperative relationship and achieved positive results in the protection and breeding of giant pandas, disease prevention and control, diagnosis and treatment, and public education, which have played an important role in enhancing the friendship between the two peoples.
After the departure of the Mei Xiang family, there are still four other giant pandas in the United States, currently at Atlanta Zoo.
“It is believed that they will continue to build a bridge of friendship between the Chinese and American people,” the spokesperson said.