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UNESCO Chairman Committed to Reform

As the first Chinese to be elected as the chairman of the Executive Board of United Nation's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Vice-Minister of Education Zhang Xinsheng stepped out of Beijing's Capital International Airport with a big smile yesterday.


In a blue suit, Zhang showed no trace of fatigue after a long journey from Paris. The first sentence he said referring to his election was: "I feel very much honored, but also, the responsibilities I shoulder are heavy."


Zhang, also China's representative to the board, won 41 votes from the 58 board members in the first round of voting at the 173rd session of the board on Monday in France, thus replacing Hans-Heinrich Wrede of Germany, who had served as the board chairman since October 2003.


In a speech after his election, Zhang stressed that "the time has come for all of us to intensify our commitment to an even stronger UNESCO," and highlighted the need for harmony and synergy among different UNESCO organizations.


He reemphasized yesterday that in his two-year term he would dedicate himself to the further development and reform of UNESCO, and said his election showed that "China's efforts in developing education, science and culture had gained recognition worldwide."


Yasuyuki Aoshima, director and representative of the UNESCO office in Beijing, joined the welcoming group at the airport. He spoke highly of Zhang's successful election and said "it's a milestone for China in the history of UNESCO."


Aoshima said the ability and quality that Zhang showed while chairing the 2004 session of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province, boosted him in the voting.


"But more importantly, he was elected because China has been strongly committed to the development of education, science and culture in the country," Aoshima said. "I'm very optimistic that the Chinese Government will do more in the future to support UNESCO's programs and ideas."


(China Daily October 28, 2005)

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