Paris lights up for Beijing
( 2004-01-26 08:49) (China Daily)
Hundreds of lanterns adorn the historic Champs-Elysees and the landmark Eiffel Tower is lit up in red as France helps China usher in the Year of the Monkey on the eve of a state visit by President Hu Jintao.
On Saturday afternoon, the sky cleared over Paris after several overcast days as Parisians and tourists streamed into the Champs-Elysees where Chinese culture took centre-stage as part of Paris-Beijing Week.
More than 7,500 performers and dozens of parade floats helped kick-off the celebrations, which are a part of the Year of Chinese Culture in France inaugurated in October.
Dragon and lion dances, red-fan performances, Peking Opera and martial arts brought a taste of China to the French capital.
"We're very proud to hold the parade," said Wang Qishan, mayor of Beijing, who is also in Paris to attend the events.
"(The parade) shows the charm of Chinese culture and its vigor in modern times since the country adopted opening-up strategic thinking," Wang said.
President Hu is expected to attend some activities during his three-day visit that starts today and marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
The event on the Champs-Elysees attended by some 200,000 people was the first time a parade dedicated to a foreign culture was held on the 1,200-metre long avenue.
Patrick Borri, who watched the performances, said Chinese culture has attracted strong interest in France.
"I myself like Chinese kung fu very much and I am very happy to see Chinese culture exhibitions held in Paris."
The programme, running till July, explores China's ancient civilization, folklore, art and literature, education, technology and tourism. It is the largest and longest ever cultural exchange undertaken by the Chinese capital.
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