Thai officials in China to negotiate Lin Ping’s longer stay

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BANGKOK, May 8 – A group of Thai representatives travelled to China today to negotiate a longer stay for Lin Ping, the panda that was born in Thailand.

The officials, led by Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Preecha Rengsomboonsuk, said they were certain to receive a positive result from Chinese authorities.

Other representatives joining the trip included the ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachoo and the Zoological Park Organisation director, among others.

The negotiation will be the official first-time talk among both countries’ authorities. The Thai officials will ask the Chinese Minister of Environmental Protection to approve Lin Ping to stay another five years in Thailand.

Mr Preecha said the negotiations will focus on changing the content of the contract of Thailand having Lin Ping in possession. The existing contract will end May 27.

There have been previous discussions among officials of both countries, but the processes as well as timing, panda care along with other issues, including panda research to be conducted by both Thailand and China, are still to be discussed in detail.

Singthong Buachoom, heading a sub-committee concerning the panda project in Thailand, said apart from proposing to China that Thailand would like to keep Lin Ping for another five years in the project’s second phase, Thailand will propose China to support more panda breeding in Thailand by asking China to send a male panda to mate with Lin Ping.

Lin Ping’s parents, Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui, will also be asked to stay in the country for another five years.

Mr Singthong said both countries plan to develop a research on panda conservation. He said Thailand is fully ready to care for pandas, while China praised Thailand as the best country in the world for taking care of its animals.

He added there might be a chance that Thailand and China will set up a joint panda conservation centre in Thailand, which will also be the first such centre in ASEAN.

To support this project, he said, however, that the government may have to increase the budget at least Bt7.5 million/year.

Mr Singthong believed that the good relations of both countries would make China to answer positively to Thailand’s requests. The result of the negotiations is expected on Saturday.