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Beijing Under the Spotlight in Berlin

Beijing's information technology, biotech and environmental businesses as well as traditional cultural arts like Peking Opera will be taking centre stage in Berlin later this year in the latest efforts to boost growing exchanges between the two cities.

Eberhard Diepgen, mayor of Berlin, capital of Germany, told China Daily yesterday that Berlin will present a bi-annual "Asia Pacific Week" on September 17 to 30 this year in which China's economy and culture will be the central theme.

"Beijing, as China's capital city, will have a big role in the events, which we hope will strengthen the friendship between the two cities," said Diepgen.

The events, featuring business exhibitions, arts shows and forums, represents China's largest cultural show in a foreign country since World War II.

Diepgen is currently heading a delegation in Beijing promoting the "Asia Pacific Week." He will leave for Shanghai and then Hong Kong on April 19.

Beijing and Berlin established a sister cities relationship in 1994 and since then, economic exchanges and trade and culture co-operations between the two have been on the increase.

However, Diepgen, on his fourth tour of Beijing, said more efforts should be made to help small and medium-sized enterprises in the two cities co-operate with each other to aid their survival against the backdrop of globalization.

"Enterprises in information technology, biotechnology and other hi-tech fields are still young and unlike big and global rivals, they need more support," said Diegpen.

Diegpen also said Beijing has a good chance of winning the right to host the 2008 Olympic Games.

"I would be happy to see Beijing successful if it turns out that way," Diegpen said.

He said there has been much public interest in Chinese culture and art in Berlin.

The Berlin government financed the building of a Chinese garden in the city to give Berliners access to a variety of Chinese cultures. The garden, which was opened late last year, has proved extremely popular.

"In the last six months, we have seen about 100,000 visitors to the garden. There has been a strong interest in Chinese culture in Berlin, which will strengthen ties between the two countries."

The mayor said he was stunned by the changes in Beijing since his first tour of the city in 1988.

"Beijing is on the fast track, shifting from bicycles to cars, and has become one of the world's busiest construction sites," he said, "People are more open-minded now. I can feel the harmony of people here."

(China Daily 04/18/2001)

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