China has said it will gift Britain a pair of giant pandas as vice premier Li Keqiang marked the second day of his official visit to the UK with the signing of trade deals worth an estimated £2.6bn.
Tian Tian and Yangguang, a breeding pair born in 2003, are to be housed at Edinburgh Zoo and will be the first pandas in the UK for 17 years.
The announcement of the loan agreement, which will see the |animals stay in Scotland for the next 10 years, was the high point so far of a visit which has focused heavily on improving trade links.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said it was a sign the two countries could “co-operate closely on a broad range of environmental and cultural issues, as well as commerce”.
The Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming said: “Pandas are a Chinese national treasure. This historical agreement is a gift to the people of the UK from China.
“It will represent an important symbol of our friendship and will bring our people closer together.”
Since the coalition came to power in May, Prime Minister David Cameron has made developing trade and investment with China a key priority.