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First lady brings joy to children

By Ren Qi (China Daily USA)

Updated: 2015-09-26 13:13:48


First lady brings joy to children

Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan and her US counterpart Michelle Obama on Friday revealed the name of the giant panda cub born at the National Zoo in Washington. Provided to China Daily

It has been a long time since Chinese students and immigrants have gathered along the streets of the US capital and waved Chinese national flags.

When I got to the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington on Friday, I was surprised to see more than 100 people doing that outside the zoo as they eagerly awaited the arrival of Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan.

Peng and US first lady Michelle Obama visited the zoo to see the panda cub born on Aug 22.

The National Zoo received a state gift of two pandas in 1972 following the seminal state visit of President Richard Nixon to China. The two pandas, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, lived out their lives at the zoo.

The two first ladies revealed the name of the cub by untying a pair of yellow scrolls on which it was written in English and Mandarin Chinese: Bei Bei. The name translates to "precious treasure", and is complementary to his sister's name, Bao Bao

Zoo director Dennis Kelly said the two first ladies selected the name from suggestions proposed by zookeepers at both the National Zoo and China's Wolong Nature Reserve.

Peng, speaking with a translator, called Bei Bei's birth "yet another success in a conservation cooperation between China and the United States on giant pandas."

"I am delighted to learn that the American public has great affection towards the giant pandas," she added.

"Giant panda has become the common bond between Chinese and American people. I'm glad to know that Americans like pandas," Peng said.

"I believe the pandas will carry on bringing more fun and friendship to the people especially to the kids of the two countries." she said.

Michelle said: "We are here to enhance the cultural and language exchange between Chinese and American people, which is the key topics of the leaders. We hope there will be more cultural exchanges in the next generations of the two countries."

Before the announcement, the two first ladies watched the cub get a medical checkup.

Nadine Hathaway was in the welcoming crowd and lives near the zoo, which she said she visits often.

"I love animals, and love the spirit of Chinese pandas," said Hathaway.

She said that people should find ways to agree with people from other countries and that was her hope for the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

At around 11:30 in the morning, the motorcade of the two first ladies came out of the zoo. Peng waved to the crowd and the people erupted into cheers.

First lady brings joy to children

Ms. Zhang, a Chinese language teacher in a local high school in Washington, said she was extremely excited to get to see Peng so close up.

She said Peng has a good reputation among Chinese people because of her fine image and what she called her elegant temperament.

"It is my first time to see Peng Liyuan with my own eyes," said Zhang, "she just smiled at me and waved to us."

Many people have praised Peng since her initial foreign trip as first lady in 2013. Compared with the serious political environment of the two presidents' meeting, analysts pointed out that the meeting between the first ladies seemed more relaxed and more colorful.

In 2011, the World Health Organization selected Peng as a good-will ambassador for AIDS and tuberculosis, a position she held for two years.

"I think she will definitely add points for her husband," said Tian Yimiao, an associate professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, in an interview with The New York Times. "I believe she can make a diplomatic idol."