China’s President Xi Jinping is visiting Berlin from 4 to 7 July. The reasons for his visit are manifold: at the end of the week the G20 Summit is being held in Hamburg, and Germany and China are celebrating the 45th anniversary of the commencement of their diplomatic relations. On Wednesday (5 July), the official handover of the Chinese pandas Meng Meng and Jiao Qing will take place at Berlin Zoo.
Meng Meng and Jiao Qing: new arrivals at Berlin Zoo
The giant panda, ailuropoda melanoleuca, is a nocturnal animal, has dark rings around its eyes and eats large quantities of vegetarian food. It would be malicious to suggest that this alone makes Berlin the ideal place for the pandas to live. But the truth is that pandas and Berlin go well together, because the city’s emblem is a bear – albeit a brown bear. That information found its way to Beijing, Berlin’s partner city. Chinese President Xi Jinping therefore agreed to loan two pandas to Berlin Zoo to mark his state visit from 4 to 7 July. The two new arrivals are called Meng Meng (Little Dream) and Jiao Qing (Little Treasure) and are currently busy settling into their specially built panda enclosure.
45 years of diplomatic relations
The reason for Xi Jingping’s state visit is not only the G20 Summit in Hamburg on 7 and 8 July. Germany and China are also celebrating the 45th anniversary of the commencement of their diplomatic relations this year. After rather tentative initial steps in the early 1970s, relations have developed so rapidly, especially since the start of Deng Xiaoping’s policy of reform and opening up, that exchange and cooperation between the two countries have never been as close as they are today, notwithstanding all differences of opinion on human rights issues. This is due not only to the considerable interest that two strong trading nations have in good business relations. It also stems from the shared conviction that in times of global uncertainty it is important that Germany and China stand side by side in the quest to preserve and strengthen the multilateral order.
Ambassadors of Sino-German friendship
Looking forward to Meng Meng and Jiao Qing: on his trip to Beijing, Foreign Minister Gabriel was given two cuddly pandas in anticipation of the arrival of the real onesGaertner/photothek.net
Beyond the sphere of high‑level politics, exchange is also thriving in the area of intersocietal cooperation: There are more than 32,000 Chinese exchange students in Germany, more than 120 partner schools with a broader German curriculum in China and, a recent development, increased cooperation in the area of football.
The pandas Meng Meng and Jiao Qing are already the focus of considerable media attention. As ambassadors of the Sino‑German friendship in Berlin, their task in future is to bring together people from both countries, beyond the sphere of high‑level politics.