"When I was among more than 7,000 Chinese and overseas Chinese parading along the Ave des Champs-Elysees or standing at the foot of the Eiffel Tower wearing red color for the Chinese Spring Festival, I felt proud of my motherland."
Chinese Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng said this when recalling his visit to France accompanying Chinese President Hu Jintao.
"Leaders of both China and France paid great attention to the development of the culture ties between the two countries, which not only led to the success of 'the Chinese Culture Year', but also enlightened China's outward culture exchanges in six aspects," said Sun.
First of all, he pointed out, that the "Chinese Culture Year" has paved the way for President Hu's state visit to France, by evoking the French people's affection for the Chinese culture and in return, Hu's visit also highlighted the culture event.
Since the founding of the Republic of China in 1949, China's culture exchange with the outside world has been carried out with an earnest wish of keeping peace and achieving co-progress, which was fully reflected in the "Chinese Culture Year" in France, Sun added.
Secondly, the modern French people, keeping a strong interest in Chinese ancient history, has seen the true face of a five-century old China undergoing reform and opening-up with the participation of more than 300 projects during the "Chinese Culture Year", Sun said.
Thirdly, the purpose of China's culture exchange is to let the world see China's current status, Sun said, adding that China, though achieving great economic and social development due to reform and opening up, is still a populous developing country with per capita economic index stood at a low level.
"China's development will benefit her own people, but which will not be a threat to any other country. Instead, the prosperity of China will bring more opportunities to economic and social progress of other countries," Sun stressed.
Fourthly, China needs to absorb beneficial experience and good cultures from the others, which is believed to inspire not only the culture innovation of itself, but also the all-round development of the whole society," he said.
Fifthly, the "Chinese Culture Year" marks a new era for China's culture exchange with other countries, Sun said, adding that the culture exchange strategy is to put the big countries at the first place, the neighboring countries at the important place, while strengthening exchanges with developing countries, said Sun.
Sixthly, he said, a new mechanism for China's outward culture exchange has come into being, with the Chinese government playing as a major role, social organizations playing supplementary roles.
The impact of the "Chinese Culture Year" in France, which began last October, far exceeded the culture event itself. It is estimated by the end of this autumn when the "Chinese Culture Year" comes to its end, the number of French people directly or indirectly participating in the relevant activities will reach 20 million.
"We Chinese, when enjoying the sense of pride over our long history and culture, should see clear of our own weakness and try to improve our cultural quality that matches our economic development," said Sun in conclusion.
(Xinhua News Agency February 21, 2004)