Address by Mr. Mao Siwei Consul General of China in Kolkata at the Inaugural Function of the Photographic Exhibition: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

Respected Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the Honorable Chief Minister of West Bengal,

Respected Mr. Subhas Chakraborty, the Honorable State Minister In-charge of Sports & Youth Affairs,

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It's a great honor for me to be here this evening for the inauguration of the Photographic Exhibition: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

On July the 13th, 2001, the International Olympic Committee made a historical decision: Beijing was selected the Host City for the Olympic Games 2008. Exactly 10 p.m. Beijing time that day, hundreds of millions Chinese people were waiting anxiously in front of their TV sets. When Mr. Samaranch, the then President of the International Olympic Committee announced the voting result, immediately the whole Chinese nation was in a wild and jubilant celebration. Hundreds of thousands people were marching and dancing on streets, hundreds of millions people were drinking and singing at parties, and numerous people were clapping and jumping in tears for joy at their homes. This was an exciting moment of one fifth human beings and the history of Olympics will never forget there was such a night.

In 2001, the recommendation of the IOC Evaluation Commission for selecting Beijing was that: "a Beijing Games would leave a unique legacy to China and to sports. The Commission is confident that Beijing could organize an excellent Games". Six years have passed and the world has witnessed a biggest Olympic campaign taking place in China and now Beijing is ready. The same Mr. Samaranch recently made a statement: "I am sure that the Olympic Games in Beijing will be the best in Olympic history".

Why Beijing Olympic Games is so important to China? The Modern Olympic Movement began at the end of the 19th century, at that time China was under the rule of the Qing Dynasty. When the Government of Qing Dynasty received the invitation for the First Olympic Games 1896, the government officials did not understand at all what it was and just put it aside. China had not been represented in Olympic Games until 1932 when only one Chinese athlete participated in Los Angeles Games. At that time China was a weak nation. Economically and socially it was backward. Militarily it was defeated by foreign powers once and again and was forced to make territorial concessions. Especially what made the Chinese feel sad was that at that time China was called "the sick man in East Asia". That was a national humiliation. The Chinese people have struggled for a hundred years and finally China has proved to the world that he is not a "sick man" ever again. The Beijing Olympic Games will be a ceremony to declare that China is a healthy man, a civilized man and also a strong man in the world.

Until now Olympic Games were held only in two Asian cities, Tokyo and Seoul. For Asian countries to host an Olympic Games has a very special meaning. During and after the Tokyo Games 1964, the world saw a new Tokyo and the Japanese economic miracle was following. And the Seoul Games 1988 predicted a new economic power was emerging. Today in many countries, especially everywhere in China and India I think, you can easily find products made in Korea. The forthcoming Beijing Games, although it comes a little bit too late, has the same significance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Beijing Olympic Games does not belong only to China, it also belongs to Asia and to the world. We never forget it was India who led the newly independent Asian countries for an Asian sports movement. The first Asian Games was held in New Delhi and New Delhi is one of the only two cities which hosted Asian Games more than once. Just as China is rising, India is rising too. I strongly believe that India, a great civilization and growing economic power, deserves to host an Olympic Games and that day will come sooner rather than later. When that day comes more than one billion Chinese people will cheer for you.

This Photographic Exhibition is our first efforts to promote understanding and communication between the Chinese and Indians. We have just come to Kolkata starting the process of the establishment of a consulate general of China here. When the Chinese President Mr. Hu Jingtao visited India last year, the leaders of the two countries decided that China will have a new consulate general in Kolkata and India will have a one in Guangzhou, a big city in South China. This development itself shows important progress in China-India relations.

We have been here only for three months now but already strongly felt that there is a dynamic impulsion for economic development in West Bengal. The keyword is Industrialization and it enjoys wide consensus. We will do our best to open the consulate office as early as possible and put all our efforts to promote relations in various fields between China and our consular districts, which are West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

Geographically, this part of India is not far away from China. The China Eastern Airlines has just started a direct flight between Kolkata and Kunming, a big city in Southwest China. It takes only two hours and twenty minutes to get there, and from Kunming you can fly to any city in China very easily. Economically and culturally, we will help making this part of India and China even closer, through promoting trade and investment, cooperation and collaboration in various fields, and tourist development and people-to-people exchanges. This is our purpose. This is our target. I promise we will do a good job.

Thank you.

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