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Exhibit About Life of Charles de Gaulle Opens in Beijing

An exhibit titled "Life of General Charles de Gaulle," the great French statesman and one of the first Westerners to greet new China, opened in Beijing Sunday.

Chinese first lady Liu Yongqing and Madame Bernadette Chirac cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony held in the China Millennium Alta.

Lu Qiutian, president of the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs said General Charles de Gaulle had wished to visit China and couldn't do it during his lifetime.

"This exhibition could be seen as his first trip in China. We felt as if he had come to the country, talking to the Chinese in a special way," he said.

At the opening ceremony, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said that the exhibition would bring Sino-French ties to its starting point as Charles de Gaulle was not only a national hero, a far-sighted statesman, but also the founder of the Sino-French diplomatic relations.

On Jan. 27, 1964, Mao Zedong and de Gaulle clinched an agreement to forge bilateral diplomatic ties between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of France, which has virtually brought PRC for the first time to the Western world.

Former Chinese ambassador Cai Fangbai said the time-tested sino-foreign friendship would surely bring contemporary Chinese and French closer still and boost their mutual understanding.

Being part of the French Culture Year in China, marking the 40th forging anniversary of China-French diplomatic ties, the exhibition has put on show many valuable pictures, photos, garments, books and documents collected by French museums.

To better depict General de Gaulle's life, video and multimedia technology were employed.

Charles de Gaulle was born in 1890. While he died in 1970, Chairman Mao Zedong sent a telegram of condolence, speaking highly of de Gaulle's contributions in defending democracy and combating power politics.

At the exhibition hall of the China Millennium Alta, visitor Huang Zhenping saw a mourning hall screened off by white gauze. There was no coffin inside only a board with Chairman Mao's condolence telegram on it. Unconsciously, Huang put his hand on his chest.

"It's sad to think about death, especially the death of General de Gaulle, a great man of the 20th century and a great friend of China," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 11, 2004)

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