Young Danes with a passion for China celebrated the on-going EU-China Year of Youth at an opening day organized by the Chinese Embassy in Denmark, in the Danish capital Copenhagen on Friday.
Around 50 students from Danish high-schools and universities participated in the event, which was one among several held at Chinese embassies across the European Union (EU) Friday.
"In Chinese, we say the youth are the future, so we arranged the EU-China Year of Youth to enhance exchanges, especially between young people," said Gu Hui, the charge d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Denmark.
"We want to increase mutual understanding between youth in EU and China. Through this, we believe we can build-up a harmonious world," he told Xinhua.
In November 2009, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso declared 2011 the EU- China Year of Youth at the 12th EU-China summit in Nanjing, China.
A number of youth-focused activities including student exchanges, expert seminars, volunteering programs, bicycle races and dance competitions have since been jointly organised, or are scheduled to take place, in Europe and China.
The initiative comes at a time when EU-China relations are growing fast. According to the European Commission, China is the EU's second-biggest trade partner and its primary source of imports, while the EU ranks as China's primary trade partner.
Gu added, "Today, May 6th, is the 36th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the EU," saying the occasion will be marked by open days for youth in Chinese embassies across the EU, and similarly, in EU missions in Beijing.
At the Danish open day, participants shared their experiences of China, and through presentations, exhibitions and films, learned how China has emerged as the world's second-largest economy while maintaining its commitment to peaceful growth.
There were also presentations on traditional Chinese calligraphy, music and cuisine, including the art of sculpting exquisite animal figures from raw vegetables. Many of the young people present believed the opportunities offered by China's booming economy and growing cultural presence, would have a positive impact on their lives.
"I am interested in business, and in that sense, I realize China will be a very important nation, not just for the EU, but for Denmark, as trade develops between our two countries," said Jacob Frederiksen, 22, a student at Niels Brock Copenhagen Business College. "Our relations are already very good and we want to keep it that way," he added.
Irene Bravo, 20, a Spanish graduate exchange student at the Copenhagen Business School, felt a knowledge of Chinese language would influence her future career.
"I studied translation and interpretation in Spain, and I chose Chinese because that was the one language that would allow me to have better employment opportunities. And later, I just fell in love with Chinese culture!" she remarked.
The participants, most of whom are studying Chinese at an elementary or advanced level, were convinced the EU-China Year of Youth would mutually benefit Sino-Danish relations. "Chinese students have much more discipline than us, and it was a great opportunity to get to know them," said Sarah Moth-Lund, 17, from Niels Steensens Gymnasium, Copenhagen.
She recently returned from a school trip to the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China (RDFZ), in Beijing, in connection with the 2011 Year of Youth.
"It was an amazing journey: we learned about Chinese culture, and experienced how it was to live at the school and with our local hosts," she recalled. In fact, China has enjoyed cordial ties with Denmark since diplomatic relations were established over 60 years ago.
Moreover, Chinese language is gaining popularity here, with language or China-related studies taught in some 40 Danish high-schools and nearly all Danish universities.
Gu acknowledged that the two countries have much to learn from each other. When asked what he believed Danish youth could offer their Chinese counterparts, he replied, "Danish youth are good at working together in groups, and I think that is the most important thing China's young people can learn from the Danes."
(Xinhua News Agency May 7, 2011)