Zhang Jianlong, Administrator
of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, handed over the archives
of "Meng Meng "and "Jiao Jiao" to Dr. Andreas Knieriem, Director of Zoo
new international initiative was officially inaugurated at The China Millennium
Monument in Beijing.
is in future scheduled on the environmental calendar as a biennial
international celebration of China's 60 years of conservation efforts saving
the icon of vulnerable species.
Giant Panda has since become a beloved cultural envoy representing friendly
Chinese foreign exchanges and global environmental cooperation.
of giant pandas to foreign zoos marked some of the first cultural exchanges
between China and the western world in the 1970s -- known as "panda
diplomacy" -- and research and breeding has since extended worldwide to 22
zoos in 17 countries.
this theme as a global ambassador, 'Chinese Giant Panda
International Cultural Week' extends a philosophy of "peace,
development, cooperation and mutually beneficial relationships" to the
world", said Mr. Li
Vice Administrator of the National Forestry and
Grassland Administration at the opening ceremony.
"The Giant Panda is revered as a "living
fossil" and "China's national treasure", a flagship species of
global biodiversity, as well as a unique national and cultural symbol," he
"China has always attached great importance
to their conservation and protection, and President Xi Jinping has repeatedly
stressed that more efforts need to be made to strengthen the protection and
restoration of their panda habitats, scientific research and personnel training
to promote rejuvenation of the wild population.
"This fully reflects China's confidence and
determination to boost ecological protection, laying
a solid foundation and guidance for the protection and management of Giant
said habitat protection has since extended to 67 reserves through Sichuan and neighboring
Northern provinces Shaanxi and Gansu -- with key ecological projects including forest resources protection,
returning farmland to forests and grasslands, wildlife protection and natural
"We have also made great efforts to reinforce
the construction of wildlife protection laws, artificial breeding and releasing
giant pandas to the wild," he said. Key research in rare animal protection
biology has meanwhile brought "important scientific and technological
breakthroughs" including nearly 100 national patents "driving the research on
giant panda protection to a higher level, enabling effective conservation".
As a result, the wild population has
"gradually restored" to 1,864 individuals, along with 518 in captivity worldwide, this represents
"a healthy, dynamic and sustainable species".
he said a pilot project for a "Giant Panda National Park" with an area of
27,000 square kilometers has been launched, "opening a new chapter for the
conservation of Giant pandas".
park will cover three times the area of Yellowstone National Park in the US,
with major ecological projects including
construction of reserves, ex-situ protection and release of giant pandas to the
wild, focused on solving the problems of fragmented habitats and isolated genes.
Last but not least, he said China
will promote panda culture globally through "peace, friendliness, green
and sharing" with scientific and international exchanges "headlined by
Chinese characteristics, spirits and wisdom, leading the world to raise
people's awareness of ecological civilization".
"The Giant panda is a messenger
of peace and a symbol of friendship," he added. "Panda culture is an important
part of Chinese traditional culture, promoting China's philosophies of
international peace, development, cooperation and mutually beneficial relationships."
"We have made great efforts and
accumulated a wealth of experience in the conservation and protection of giant
pandas as well as related cultural exchanges and cooperation.
"We are willing to make joint
efforts with the international community to protect giant pandas and promote
panda culture, and make a positive contribution to building a community of a shared future for mankind while enhancing international peace and
Austria's Ambassador to China, His
Excellency Dr. Fritz Stift,
said: "Pandas are a symbol of friendship between Austria and China. I would
like to congratulate the National Forestry and Grassland Administration for its
great success in protecting Giant Pandas.
He noted that Giant Pandas
have been the most popular attraction at Vienna Zoo since a pair was loaned in
2003. Four years later the first Panda conceived naturally in Europe was born. Two
more cubs followed in 2010 and 2013, followed by twins in 2016 -- the first in
the world raised without human assistance.
"Austria also would like to
continue contributing to this great endeavor in the future," he added. "We hope
our success story of raising Panda cubs can be continued."
'Panda Week' features a public exhibition from
August 23-26 (free entry, 8am-9pm) at The China Millennium Monument telling the
multi-faceted story of the panda through photos, film, television, virtual
reality, research exhibits, works of art and cultural and creative products.
'First Day Cover' of postage stamps presses the message home nationwide and
the inaugural event themed 'Panda Culture, Shared Around the World',
international involvement is also encouraged with a Chinese Giant Panda
To help panda lovers around
the world better understand
the species and learn more about panda culture, Mr. Cui Baohua, Deputy Chairman of
Sichuan Provincial Political Consultative Conference, announced that Sichuan
will launch a recruitment campaign for "Panda Culture Global Promotion Envoys",
inviting 100 from around the world to visit Sichuan over the next five years.
He added: "China Giant Panda
International Culture Week will be a great platform that helps promote
scientific research and protection of Giant pandas in Sichuan, as well as
ecological civilization construction, opening-up international cooperation. It
will be an important bridge that fosters cultural exchanges and friendships
between Sichuan and the world."
"It showcases China's great
achievements in multiple aspects, including conservation and research of giant
pandas, international exchanges and cooperation, and ecological civilization
"This event will certainly
enhance exchanges and friendships between China and other countries, and
promote sharing of Chinese culture with the world," he said.
Known as the "Land of
Abundance" and "Hometown of Giant Pandas", he said Sichuan
Province has been at the forefront of protecting the species with natural
forest protection, returning farmland to forests and grasslands, wild fauna and
flora protection, natural reserve construction and scientific research.
"The Giant panda has become
the most dynamic and most promising wildlife tourism brand in Sichuan, and most
charming 'business card' for Sichuan and even China in international cultural
exchanges," he added.
Chinese Giant Panda International Design Competition was also launched,
inviting designers from around the world to create "a
unique cultural image" and international symbol for the species.
The invitation extends until
December 31, 2018 with the winning design revealed in 2019 for global
"We hope this campaign will
convene global inspiration and strength of cultural and artistic creation,
helping promote the sharing of panda culture with the world," said Mr. Jing Shuiqing, Vice President, China
Intercontinental Communication Center (CICC), which promotes international exchanges and Chinese culture.
"The Giant Panda is gentle and adorable in the eyes of people all over the world, and a "business card of China" with worldwide
popularity," he said. "It symbolizes gentleness, friendliness, sustainability
and sharing in Chinese culture, resonating with the philosophies of respect for
life, harmony between human and nature and sustainable development."
'China Giant Panda International Culture Week' is supported by
the State Council Information Office, organized by the National Forestry and
Grassland Administration, Chinese People's Association for Friendship with
Foreign Countries, and the Provincial People's Governments of Sichuan, Shanxi
and Gansu, the China
Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda and CICC.
China's Giant Panda Conservation
Native to south-central China, the Giant Panda was on the brink of extinction from deforestation of
its natural habitat of bamboo forest and poaching until conservation efforts
formally began in 1958 with the establishment of Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan.
Habitat protection has since extended to 67
nature reserves through Sichuan and neighboring Northern provinces Shaanxi and Gansu -- compared to just 13 reserves in 1998.
Wild population estimates vary, with latest
estimates of steady growth reaching 1,864 individuals along with 518 in captivity worldwide -- representing a healthy, sustainable breeding
strengthening protection and preservation of wild Giant Pandas, research
centres including the Chengdu
Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and Shanxi Louguantai Giant Panda Rescue
Center continue advancing scientific research into breeding in captivity.
As well as loss of habitat,
the Giant Panda's survival has been additionally hindered by a curious lack of
libido, brief breeding season, low fertility and poor survival rate of cubs.
To increase their interest in
procreating, some research centres have even tried inspiring their sex-drive
with a version of Viagra, and showing them the equivalent of adult movies --
with film of other pandas mating.
"After nearly 40 years of
hard work, the number of artificially bred Giant Pandas is now steadily on the
rise," said Mr.
Yang Chao, Director of Wildlife Conservation and Nature Reserve Management
of National Forestry and Grassland Administration.
"As the technique for
artificial breeding becomes more sophisticated, the number of captive Giant
Pandas is reproducing at a faster rate."
China has so far bred 63
Giant Panda cubs through artificial insemination, with 58 surviving. "By the
end of 2017, the captive Giant Panda population reached 518, achieving basic
self-sustainment," said Director Yang.
As a result of conservation success, the
International Union for Conservation of Nature reclassified the species in 2016
from endangered, meaning threatened with extinction, to 'conservational-reliant
vulnerable', indicating population recovery with conservation support.
As the National Forestry Administration of China continues to reinforce conservation efforts for one of the worlds most
adored and protected rare animals, the Giant Panda is one of the few species
with its natural habitat designated a UNESCO World Heritage
Site. The Sichuan Giant Panda
Sanctuaries covering seven natural
reserves were inscribed onto the World Heritage List in 2006.
is now embarking on amalgamating and extending reserves in
Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu under a Giant Panda National Park protecting
70% of its habitat and 86% of the wild population.
park will cover 27,134 square kilometres, three times the area of Yellowstone
National Park in the US.
By spanning three provinces, it aims to encourage migration of the species to strengthen
its gene pool.
As most of the area is mountainous
where residents are poor, it will also enable local governments to alleviate
A fund of at least 10 billion
yuan (US$1.57 billion) will finance a variety of poverty alleviation projects
from 2018 to 2023. The programme includes financial assistance, charity
foundation, disaster relief, community education, tourism development and
Qumu Shiha, head of a national
park working group, called the initiative a "big step to building a moderately
well-off society" in the region.
"It will help mobilize the efforts of the whole society into protecting giant
pandas, promoting harmony between nature and humans, and exploring a new model
to combining environmental protection, financing, poverty reduction and charity
He described the vision as a
"model for ecological development and social development globally."