The Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) kindly invited the SCA to send a delegation to take part in events held in Beijing on 14-18 May 2014, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its founding in 1954. Janice Dickson, our National Chairman, and Peter Lindow, Edinburgh Branch Chairman, attended and their short report below gives a flavour of the commemoration. A fuller article has now appeared in the October 2014 issue of 'Sine'.
Sixty years is a particularly important anniversary in Chinese culture as this marks one complete cycle of the Chinese zodiac. This was emphasised by the presence of President Xi Jinping at the 60th Anniversary Conference, as well as the inauguration of a Public Diplomacy Museum, eight TV documentaries, a commemorative book and a special stamp. We were delighted to receive the invitation from CPAFFC – our own exchange links go back to our first delegation to China in 1972.
The main theme of the International Friendship Conference, held in the Great Hall of the People, was the importance of “people to people diplomacy”, and the significant difference this can make to relationships between China and the people of all nations.
President Xi speaking at the conference (courtesy of Xinhua)
In his keynote speech, President Xi said stressed China's peaceful diplomacy and that the country was not motivated by expansion or hegemony. He said the CPAFFC “played an irreplaceable role in promoting China's friendship with other countries”, and “showcased the power of people-to-people engagement in promoting world peace and development.” He urged people in all countries to “strengthen friendly exchanges and join hands in the face of a complicated international situation and severe global challenges”.
Xi also called on the association to innovate and explore ways to allow for more people-to-people exchanges, and help build more “twin city” links and promote exchanges between local governments. The CPAFFC has already established friendly cooperation with more than 500 non-governmental organizations in 157 countries, and helped the establishment of 2,106 “twin cities” between China and 133 nations – in Scotland, Edinburgh is twinned with Xi'an ; Glasgow with Dalian ; Perth with Haikou and Angus with Yantai.
The conference was also addressed by CPAFFC President Li Xiaolin, and representatives of friendship associations from five continents. President Xi's speech is reported in brief on Xinhua here. There is also a video excerpt in Chinese on CCTV here.
Delegates from many countries at the CPAFFC celebrations,
including our own Janice Dickson and Peter Lindow
We also attended an event at the CCTV headquarters, with 42 items in the programme, a mixture of videos, speeches and live performances. These included stories of friendships between Chinese people and those from the US, USSR, Brazil, Laos, San Marino, Gabon, and French Polynesia, amongst many others. We were especially pleased that the performance was closed by the singing by a children's chorus of 'Auld Lang Syne' – in Chinese, otherwise we would have joined in !
Janice Dickson presenting a framed photo of Andy Scott's 'Kelpies' sculpture
to CPAFFC Vice President Li Jianping
Other events during our trip included a visit to the newly opened Arts and Crafts Museum, and a lunch hosted by CPAFFC Vice President Li Jianping. At the latter, gifts were exchanged, and the SCA presented a framed photo of the stainless steel sculpture of 'Kelpies' by Andy Scott from Falkirk – very appropriate for the Year of the Horse. We also toured the CPAFFC headquarters, in the old Italian embassy in the legation quarter, and we met many old friends from the organisation, including Yang Xuehe, Zhang Ruoning, Wang Xiaogang, Qing Boming, Wang Jianhao, and Kathy Sun (who took good care of us throughout !), and made many new friends amongst the other international delegations.