Chinese state visit to Belgium: Europe, pandas and much more

Belgium welcomes the first visit of a Chinese President in more than 25 years. The state visit made by Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan is the first of its kind in Belgium since 2008. The presidential couple will be accompanied by either the PM or the king and queen, and has a busy agenda from Sunday to Tuesday.

Xi and his wife Peng were welcomed by PM Elio Di Rupo on a sunny Sunday morning at Brussels Airport, Zaventem. After a short welcome, they immediately went to the royal palace for an audience with King Filip. In the afternoon, they were in Hainaut province, in Wallonia south-west of Brussels, to open the panda house in the animal park Pairi Daiza officially. Last month, two Chinese pandas arrived at the park. They are expected to boost visitor numbers when the park opens to the public.

Tomorrow, the Chinese president will visit the European institutions in Brussels. It's a first for a Chinese head of state. Xi will meet presidents of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission, Herman Van Rompuy, Martin Schulz and José Manual Barroso respectively.

At the same time, his wife Peng will be in the Musical Instruments Museum. On Monday evening, a state dinner is scheduled in Laken Castle.

The day after tomorrow, it's on to the car and lorry manufacturer Volvo Gent, which is in Chinese hands. Afterwards, Xi Jinping will make his first public appearance, speeching in the Bruges concert hall. The visit comes to an end on Tuesday afternoon.