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Culture Week to Kick off in Paris

The largest cultural exchange in Chinese history will mark four decades of ties with France.

Organized by the local government, Beijing Culture Week kicks off in Paris, France, today.

The program is part of China-France Culture Year which started last year. The week will last until February 6.

The year-long program is the biggest and longest ever overseas cultural exchange in the Chinese capital's history, said Wang Hui, director of the Information Office of the Beijing municipal government.

Later this month, a Chinese parade will march at the Champs Elysees, the most famous street in the French capital. The parade will be decorated with red lanterns, a Chinese symbol of good luck on special occasions like Spring Festival.

The events coincide with the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries on January 27.

Beijing organized a delegation of 720 members, including performers, local residents and tourists, who will attend the event.

More than 5,000 overseas Chinese living in Paris are expected to participate.

China-France Culture Year was proposed by top leaders of both countries in 1999 and 2000. China culture year in France kicked off on October 2003 and will last until July.

After that, a France culture year will be held in China from this autumn until July 2005.

Beijing Culture Week, in particular, includes a photography exhibition, parade, television communication program, a trade fair, collectible book show and cross-country motor rally.

The highlight will be the parade, which will feature traditional arts, such as Peking Opera performances, dragon dance, lion dance, martial arts show, acrobatics and yangge, a popular Chinese folk dance.

Meanwhile, a more modern fashion show and contemporary dance performance will also be staged to give a full picture of the current Beijing scene, said Wang.

"Chinese living in Paris have expressed their enthusiasm in taking part in the procession. They have prepared 43 decorated floats for it," Wang said.

A trade fair will be held on January 26, during which 40 Chinese governmental officials and entrepreneurs will meet with about 80 French counterparts.

The delegation from Beijing will give an introduction of the city's investment condition, the latest preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and major projects for foreign investors.

Xiong Yumei, vice-director of the Beijing Municipal Tourism Bureau predicted that the culture week will help encourage more French tourists to visit Beijing, holding tourist promotion activities.

France is one of the three largest sources of tourists to Beijing. Some 140,000 French traveled to the city last year, according to Xiong.

(China Daily January 9, 2004)

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