The Eiffel Tower, one of the great symbols of France, is bathed in scarlet red lights for the first time in its history on Saturday evening and will sparkle red for the next five days in honor of China.
The red color, which symbolizes happiness, joyful festivities and prosperity in the Chinese tradition, is also a color loved by the French people, said Chinese Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng at the "light-on" ceremony.
The event is part of the French and Chinese governmental initiative to promote bilateral cultural exchanges, which "marks the entry into a new phase of the partnership between our two nations," said Sun.
A climax of the China-France Culture Year that started last October, the illumination in red of the tower coincides with celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between two nations.
It also comes three days after the Chinese lunar calendar New Year day and two days before the arrival of Chinese President Hu Jintao on his state visit.
"Forty years ago, general Charles de Gaulle initiated the path of communication between our two peoples, who are now coming closer and closer," said French Minister of Culture Jean-Jacques Aillagon at the ceremony.
Mayor of Beijing Wang Qishan and his Parisian counterpart Bertrand Delanoe were also present. The two cities established twinship seven years ago.
The tower will also be lavished with oriental decorations and lanterns and will host a series of Chinese cultural events in the next week.
Designed by Gustav Eiffel and inaugurated in 1889, the 324-meter landmark of Paris attracts about 6 million visitors each year.
Sponsored by the company Electricity of France, the red lighting will last till Jan. 29, visible each day from 17:00 to 07:30 local time.
Its artificial illuminations have been constantly revised and improved throughout the years, taking advantage of the latest innovation of lightening.
(Xinhua News Agency January 25, 2004)