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Inauguration of the China-EU Light Bridge at the Heart of Europe

On 22 February 2018, a grand lantern show was inaugurated in Brussels, Heart of Europe, as part of the celebrations of the China-EU Tourism Year and the Chinese Lantern Festival. Nine lantern sets, in the shape of Temple of Heaven, Atomium, Chinese blue-and-white porcelain, giant pandas, etc, lit up the Grand Place and its surrounding areas.

More than 300 guests attended the reception and ceremony to light up the lanterns, including Chinese Ambassador to the EU Mr. Zhang Ming, Chinese Ambassador to Belgium Mr. Qu Xing, Vice Governor Yang Xingping of the Sichuan Provincial People’s Government, Director-General Shen Xin of the Department of European and Asian Affairs of the Chinese People’s Association of Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), Director-General Lowri Evans and Deputy Director-General Irmfried Schwimann of Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Mayor Philippe Close and Alderwoman Karine Lalieux of the City of Brussels, and former Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.

Ambassador Zhang sent his New Year’s greetings to Chinese and foreign guests at a reception held in the time-honored City Hall. Ambassador Zhang said that it is memorable and meaningful to bring the Chinese lantern show to Brussels and to European friends. This is a jubilant occasion, like Carnival in Europe, which allows the visitors to enjoy the glamour of both Chinese and European cultures. The fact that the lantern show is co-hosted by China, the EU and Belgium reflects our shared commitment to a better future for all.

Ambassador Zhang said that China’s development and the China-EU relations have both ushered in a new era, and that it is important to forge closer people-to-people bonds as a crucial part of state-to-state relations. This year is the China-EU Tourism Year and the European Year of Cultural Heritage. It is our hope that greater cooperation in the field of tourism and cultural heritage, including the Light Bridge, will help enhance mutual understanding, strengthen the social foundation for the China-EU cooperation in wider areas, and bring the China-EU and China-Belgium relations to a new level.

Vice Governor Yang and DG Shen said that the lantern show originating in Zigong City of Sichuan Province is part of the traditional Chinese folk customs and symbolizes hope and reunion. They hope that the show will give a further boost to China-EU and China-Belgian exchanges in various areas and add to the China-EU friendship.

In their speeches, Mayor Close, Alderwoman Lalieux and DDG Schwimann expressed their thanks to China for the great support to the EU-China Tourism Year. They said that Brussels, the capital of the EU, is known for its cultural diversity and is well placed to serve as a bridge of friendship between the EU and China. The lantern show allows European and Chinese citizens to celebrate the Spring Festival and taste the Chinese culture together. They hope that the EU and China as well as Belgium and China can step up mutual learning and deliver benefits to our people.

After the reception, Ambassador Zhang and other guests came to the lantern set modeling on the Temple of Heaven and then pressed the button to illuminate all the nine lanterns to the countdown of the crowd. The ancient Chinese ritual music was played and the City Hall was lit up in red. The audience enjoyed the view in great amazement and happiness.

The lantern show, co-hosted by the Chinese Mission to the EU, the Chinese Embassy to Belgium, the Sichuan Provincial People’s Government, CPAFFC, the European Commission and the City of Brussels, is an important event in the framework of the China-EU Tourism Year. The show will last until 28 February.

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