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Arrival of two Chinese pandas confirmed
China and Belgium have struck a deal on the loaning of two giant pandas to the Pairi Daiza animal park in Brugelette, Hainaut province, reports Flanders News. Xinhui ('Sparkling Star', the male) and Haohao ('Sweet', the female) are only 4 years old. Pairi Daiza will build ultra-modern accommodation in its Chinese garden, which had been created for the arrival of the pandas. The park mirrors the landscape of the Chinese province of Sichuan. The Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has confirmed that the pandas will be loaned out to Belgium for a decade and a half - much longer than the usual ten-year period. "The arrival of the pandas will be an honour for Belgium,” said Belgian prime minister Elio Di Rupo, currently touring China. “It shows the bond of trust between our two nations." Pairi Daiza, which celebrates its 20th anniversary next year, has announced that a contract has already been signed. The arrival of the pandas will coincide with special themed events devoted to the flora, fauna and culture of China. The pandas remain the property of the Chinese, but it is hoped that they will be able to mate here. The pandas are being accompanied by a Chinese team who will hope to maximise the couple's chances of procreation. The arrival of the pandas has also triggered some controversy. The choice of Pairi Daiza came as a blow to Antwerp Zoo, which had hoped to bring the pandas to Flanders. The prime minister has been accused of promoting a park in his home province without taking account of any 'objective criteria'. There is speculation that the matter could be raised in parliament. Flemish prime minister Kris Peeters, who is also in China intends to discuss the matter with Elio Di Rupo, but added: "I don’t need a panda row."