Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday welcomed a 200-strong Japanese delegation at a banquet in the Great Hall of the People, during which he urged young people from China and Japan to enrich their friendship. The delegation is composed of representatives and the children of participants who attended a grand gathering back in 1984, as well as several Japanese lawmakers and staff from friendship organizations.
"Younger generations will determine the future of the friendship between China and Japan. They should promote bilateral ties, learn from each other, talk to each other and trust each other so that friendship and positive actions flower," Hu said. "I believe the future of China and Japan will be positive and the torch of friendship will be handed down from one generation to the next."
In late 1984, 3,000 Japanese young people visited China at the invitation of Hu Yaobang, then general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. They met up with around 1 million young people from China to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan relations. At the time, this was the largest foreign group China had welcomed since 1949.
"Twenty-three years ago, we organized a series of activities to renew the friendship between young people from China and Japan. Since then, these delegates have embodied this spirit of friendship by their actions," said Hu.
During the banquet, the guests were treated to a show including acrobatics and traditional folk songs before exchanging gifts.
As the day marked the Chinese traditional Duanwu Festival, or Dragon Boat Festival, delegates were offered "zongzi", a type of sticky rice dumpling that is traditionally eaten on this day.
Yasuhiro Nakasone, a former Japanese prime minister who is leading the delegation, also made a warm speech saying that cooperation between the two East Asian powers formed "the basis of both development and prosperity in Asia and even peace in the world." He then urged both sides to keep the light of Japan-China friendship ablaze for generations to come.
The delegation is visiting China from June 14 to 20 as part of the 2007 China-Japan Culture and Sports Year.
(Xinhua News Agency June 20, 2007)