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Friendship Award Winners: to Enjoy the Fun from China's Prosperity

"This is a great honor to me and also an affirmation to all the foreign experts participating in the Three Gorges Project," 51-year-old Hans Grolimund said in Beijing Tuesday.

Grolimund, a generator expert from Switzerland, received the 2003 Friendship Award from China's Vice Premier Wu Yi at the Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing Tuesday afternoon.

Established in 1991, the award is the supreme prize the Chinese government confers annually to foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to China's economic and social progress.

The Chinese government presented the award to 50 foreign experts from 19 countries this year. So far, 716 foreign experts have been awarded the honor.

As general site representative from Swiss ALSTOM Ltd. in China's mammoth Three Gorges Project, Grolimund has worked on the site for two years, in charge of quality control.

The Three Gorges Project is an "unprecedented huge" project and its quality must be world class, Grolimund said, adding that the quality control standards they follow at the construction site are20 percent tougher than the required ones.

Grolimund said he was enchanted by the mountains and rivers of the Three Gorges, a scenic site on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, and the nearby small city of Yibing."In the free days, I would go into the gorges for hiking and painting with my wife when she came over from Switzerland," Grolimund said.

China's prosperity requires more energy, Grolimund said, referring to construction of the Three Gorges Project. "I'm happy to be part of this project and I hope to stay in China until 2008, so that I can witness the completion of the project," he said.

Gary Dirks, president and chief executive of BP China, also said he was proud of receiving the Friendship Award. Dirks is famous in China for his success in persuading BP to spend 378 million US dollars to buy 2.11 percent of Sinopec's shares in the Chinese petrochemical giant's overseas initial public offering.

However, Dirks is more proud of YARACO in Chongqing, which is a joint venture of BP China and Sinopec's and the largest foreign-funded enterprise in China's western region.

As chairman of the Britain-China Chamber of Commerce, Dirks pledged to boost the cooperation between Chinese and British enterprises.

Sebastian Zimmer, a German winner working in environmental protection, stayed in China when the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic broke out in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province in south China.

Although foreigners were free to leave China, Zimmer stayed and worked 16 hours per day on the project's site in the city. "I'm not scared. Actually, I have full consideration of the risk and then decided to stay," Zimmer recalled. "I've got the reward now. That's my great honor, comfort and encouragement," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency September 30, 20030

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