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Address by H.E. Mr Jean-Paul Adam Minister of Foreign Affairs Republic of Seychelles during Guangzhou Zoo Giant Tortoises loan, October 14, 2014

15.10.2014

Mr. Zhu Xiaoyi, Deputy Director General of the Foreign Affairs Office of the People’s Government of Guangzhou,

Mr. Chen Xun, Deputy Director General of the Administration of Forestry and Gardening of Guangzhou,

Mr. An Jianguo, Deputy Secretary of the Youth League Guangzhou Committee,

Mr. Liu Lijun, Director of Guangzhou Zoo,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Afternoon,

 

It is my honor and my great pleasure to be here today and - on behalf on my Government - officially present to Guangzhou Zoo a pair of Giant tortoises from Seychelles.

First, I wish to express my gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, to Guangdong Provincial Government and to Guangzhou Municipal Government for all arrangements to facilitate my visit, as I am also here to see how we could cooperate in the field of environment protection, in particular bio-diversity preservation.

Then I would like to address words of thanks to the Management and Staff of Guangzhou Zoo for the warm welcome extended to me and my delegation.

I am also thankful to Seychelles National Botanical Garden Foundation, represented here by its CEO, Mr Raymond Brioche, and to our Embassy in Seychelles, for their joint efforts in making this loan happen.

It is indeed timely as my Government is paying particular attention to the promotion of its relations of friendship and cooperation with this part of China.

150 years ago, the first Chinese migrants, originating from Guangdong province, settled in Seychelles.

Since then, a Seychellois community of Chinese origin started playing a key role in the Country’s economic expansion, especially after Seychelles got Independence in 1976. They contributed a lot to the prosperity of Seychelles, now a top world tourism destination and also a small but competitive economic hub, and one of the safest and most reliable access gates to the African markets.

We are proud of this historic and emotional connection with this beautiful and so dynamic province, and Guangzhou is most probably, of all Chinese cities, one of the places where Seychellois people like to stay, either to study, to do shopping and business, or just to relax and enjoy a very rich cultural heritage.

On the other hand, with nearly 100% increase in the arrivals from China compared with last year, Seychelles is targeting 15.000 Chinese visitors in 2014, a great number of these visitors coming from this province, and we are sure that such on-going trend is step by step turning Seychelles into a big success story on Guangdong province’s outbound tourism market.

This is why the loan of this pair of tortoises is so meaningful.

Exactly 600 years ago, in 1414,  the first giraffes from Africa arrived to China.

It was in the days of Admiral Zheng He who visited Africa Several times and most probably sailed through Seychelles waters on the way back to China. There is no recorded evidence that he ever landed on Seychelles’ shores but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Chinese navigators of that time, and in the following centuries, especially merchants involved in the porcelain trade, knew Seychelles’ location and maybe were aware of the existence of giant tortoises.

For all these reasons, I believe this loan happens at a very opportune time and it will bear testimony of our friendship and solidarity for a long, long, time as Seychelles giant land tortoises are among the oldest living animals on earth, with a life expectancy that can reach 250 years when the weight of the animal is above 300 kg.

So it is a symbol of strength, good health and longevity that we want to share with our friends from Guangdong province and Guangzhou in particular. I know that good care will be taken of the two new tenants by the highly skilled staff of Guangzhou Zoo.

Thank you for your attention.

 

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