"I think Chinese culture is wonderful, and I think (its influence) is destined to increase." London mayor Boris Johnson said at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
London Mayor Boris Johnson arrives at London House for a press conference Thursday. Johnson will receive the Olympic host flag from Jacques Rogge, chairman of the International Olympic Committee, at the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on the evening of August 24. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]
Johnson's arrival at London House, in Beijing's Shichahai area, has added a buzz as the Summer Olympic Games draws to an end. The world is now shifting its attention to the London Games, as the baton will soon be handed to the next host city.
Johnson will receive the Olympic host flag from Jacques Rogge, chairman of the International Olympic Committee, at the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on the evening of August 24.
Johnson was once quoted as saying that Chinese cultural influence is virtually nil and unlikely to increase, a statement which aroused defensive feelings among many Chinese. Johnson was quick to clarify that statement at the press conference, in front of media from all over the world.
"I have a funny feeling that quote might be wrenched out of context like so many others. Let me draw your attention to another quotation that is often laid at my door in evidence of my criticism. I do think actually Chinese culture is a thing of global wonderment, and I've always thought that, and indeed, I believe I made a speech at the Royal Academy not so very long ago when I attested to that fact."
The ongoing Beijing Olympics has been widely regarded as a great success, and its opening ceremony astonished the world with its scale, majesty and poetry. Johnson said he was impressed but not "intimidated" by Beijing Olympics.
"With our native wit, with our gift for pageantry, with our fantastic ingenuity, I think it is possible that in London, we will produce, even though we have a lower population base and even though we don't have the resources at hand, we will produce a truly fantastic opening ceremony and fantastic Olympic Games."
When asked what London might do in its opening ceremony, Johnson said that people who can bear to wait will have a "full taste" of the kinds of things "we might conceivably do" in the eight-minute handover slot during the closing ceremony, though he said he has not given it a considerable amount of thought at this point.
London has less than four years to prepare for another spectacular sporting event. Asked about how he will promote London's international image in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics, Johnson said with a big smile,
"I think we will be doing all kinds of things, and I think this particular event shows our commitment to China, our love of China, and our determination to forge ever closer links."