The biggest festival of Chinese culture in the United Kingdom is to be launched during Chinese New Year next year, its organizers said yesterday.
"China Now" will include more than 800 events and continue to the end of July 2008, and the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, the festival's chief executive Simon Heale said.
"No one else has arranged a festival like this in the UK," he said in a telephone interview. "It will be held not just in London, but across the country and the total cost will be more than 50 million pounds (US$100 million)."
The festival is organized by an independently funded, non-profit institution and is supported by the Chinese and UK business communities. Governments of the two countries recognize it.
"China Now will strengthen understanding and friendship between China and the UK," Premier Wen Jiabao said. "We must work together to make the festival a success."
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "I welcome China Now as a valuable and exciting idea to help bring our countries closer together and further develop and strengthen our relationship."
Heale, who is also chief executive of The London Metal Exchange Ltd, said the festival will focus on contemporary Chinese society and culture while offering an insight into its history.
It will comprise art, design, cuisine, science, education and sport. Highlights are expected to include events such as China Design Now, a six-month exhibition displaying the work of Chinese and international designers, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, starting next March. The London to Beijing Rally next July, will feature 20 cars traveling from London to Beijing over four weeks.
The festival is held because people in the UK are "interested in China, and particularly interested in the year of the Olympics", Heale said.
In a survey by its organizers, UK people said they mostly associated China with good food, a booming economy and Hong Kong harbor.
(China Daily October 26, 2007)