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Speech at Go China! Assen-Groningen Opening Session H. E. Ambassador Xue Hanqin Assen-Groningen, February 2, 2008

Dear Mr. Foreign Minister,

Mr. Kees Van Twist,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be invited to the opening session of this cultural event --Go China! Assen-Groningen. First of all, please allow me to extend my gratitude to the organizers and co-sponsors for organizing this event, to the Dutch national and provincial governments for their support, and for your kind invitation extended to me and to my colleagues from the Embassy.

As the Chinese Ambassador, I feel proud and grateful that Assen and Groningen, two Dutch northern provinces, have jointly marked this year as the year for China. Their innovative idea of having this twin museum exhibitions about Chinese culture is particularly commendable. I must say they have chosen the best parts from two of the most outstanding Chinese museums for this event. In a short while, the audience will be able to tell what a wonderful job they have done for the Dutch public and for the cultural exchanges between our two countries and peoples. In this regard, I would also like to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to the Xi'an Museum and the Shanghai Museum for their valuable cooperation, without which this event would not be possible and my gratitude to the municipal government of Shanghai and the government of the Shanxi province for their kind support to the event.

Since 2000, especially after 2005 when our two countries signed the memorandum on cultural exchange and cooperation, there has been a big increase of cultural activities between our two countries. Cultural events such as the Chinese New Year celebrations in various Dutch cities, Amsterdam China Festival, contemporary Chinese arts exhibitions have greatly promoted general interest in the Chinese culture among the Dutch public while exhibitions such as "Rembrandt and the Golden Age" in Shanghai and Van Gogh paintings in Beijing are warmly received by the Chinese people. I wish to point out that although strongly endorsed by both governments, these cultural activities were all initiated by the cultural institutions and artists themselves and often supported by the business community and civil society from both sides. It is these cultural exchanges and people's contacts that have provided a sound and solid basis for our bilateral relations.

In a few days' time we will celebrate the Chinese New Year, the year of the Mouse. Apart from this event, there will be more cultural exchanges between our two countries this year. I am sure that these activities will further enhance our mutual understanding and friendship.

Finally I hope you will all enjoy the two exhibitions and wish Go China! Assen-Groningen a great success!

Thanks for your attention.

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