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Remarks by Ambassador Luo Zhaohui at the Ceremony for Naming the Twin Giant Panda Cubs Born in Canada

(Giant Panda Interpretive Centre Toronto Zoo, 7 March 2016)

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada,

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario,

His Worship John Tory, Mayor of Toronto,

Mr. John Tracogna, CEO of Toronto Zoo,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to join you at the ceremony to unveil the names of the twin giant panda cubs. First of all, I want to thank you, Mr. John Tracogna, and your colleagues, for your great efforts to take care of Da Mao, Er Shun and the twin babies.

I would also like to express my special thanks to you, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for your warm and friendly remarks.

Today's event is truly remarkable. It is an event of VIPs visiting VIPs -- Very Important Persons visit Very Important Pandas. I am even a bit jealous of the pandas for their VIP treatment.

Da Mao and Er Shun came to Canada on a special chartered plane. They live in a big, beautiful house and have been taken extremely good care of by a group of specialists of various disciplines. Today the twin babies are named in the presence of so many VIPs.

I think they deserve such "royal" treatment for they are one of the world's most rare and critically endangered species. There are more than seven billion people living on our planet, but there are only 2,286 giant pandas living in the wild or in captivity.

As of today, China has conducted joint research on giant panda conservation with 12 countries, including Canada. Only 44 pandas are living outside China. Four of them are in Canada.

The two giant panda cubs are so cute and adorable that I can't wait to see them in person.

But before we visit the two cubs, I have one most important announcement to make. Please allow me to read a congratulatory message from His Excellency Li Keqiang, Premier of the People's Republic of China.

Your Excellency Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,

Distinguished Guests,

I am writing to express my warm congratulations to the Toronto Zoo on the official naming of the twin giant panda cubs.

The giant panda Da Mao and Er Shun arrived in Canada in 2013, bringing with them friendship from the Chinese people. They have since been loved and adored by the Canadian people. Now Er Shun has given birth to a pair of twins on the 45th anniversary of China-Canada diplomatic relations. Such a happy coincidence bodes well for future cooperation between China and Canada. I am sure the twin cubs, crystallization of China-Canada friendship indeed, will grow up to be new messengers to carry forward our friendship.

I wish to take this opportunity to give my thanks to those from both China and Canada who have been working on giant panda conservation and research, to the Canadian public for showing care and love for China's giant pandas, and to Prime Minister Trudeau and all distinguished guests for coming to the naming ceremony today.

China-Canada relations face new opportunities of growth. China will work with Canada to draw our high-level exchanges even closer and deepen our cooperation across the board, so that our relations will bring more benefits to our peoples.

I believe now people in China and Canada are all eagerly waiting for the panda cubs to grow up. Let us wish that the friendship between the Chinese and Canadian people will continue to yield more fruits.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Premier Li's message sends a clear and positive signal: The Chinese government attaches great importance to China-Canada relations, to the joint giant panda research, and to today's naming ceremony.

The two panda cubs are our babies, so are the China-Canada relations. Let us work together to take good care of these babies and build a stronger and more robust bilateral relationship.

Thank you.

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