|Opening Address of Wang Chen at the Second Forum on the Development of Tibet, China|
Respected Minister Sen. Sandro Bondi,
Respected Mr. Giulio Andreotti,
Respected Mr. Cesare Romiti,
Ladies, gentlemen and friends,
At this occasion of fresh autumn breezes bringing us cool, the Second Forum on the Development of Tibet, with a theme of Tibet Development Prospects and Cooperation Opportunities, which is jointly held by the Information Office of the State Council of China, Italy-China Foundation of Italy and Chinese Embassy in Italy, now opens at the historical cultural city of Rome. Government officials, scholars and experts, and personages from other walks of life from China, Italy, Austria, the United States, India, Australia, Spain and Belgium join together in discussing the development of Tibet and exploring opportunities for cooperation in the economic, social and cultural fields. This is not only an event of significance in the economic cooperation and cultural exchange between China and Italy, but also a grand meeting of international Tibetologists on the study of issues related to the development of Tibet in modern times. Here on behalf of the Information Office of the State Council of China, I warmly welcome all guests present and give my sincere thanks to the Italian Government for its support and to the Italy-China Foundation for the effort and hard work it has done for this Forum.
China and Italy are both countries with a long history, splendid culture and ancient civilization. Though far apart geographically, our two countries have a long history of contacts. Over 700 years ago, Marco Polo opened up the contacts between China and Italy. Later, Matteo Ricci and Giuseppe Castiglione brought closer our two peoples. Great Italian masters during the Renaissance, such as Dante Alighieri, DaVinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Galileo, are familiar to the Chinese people, with their great thoughts having had profound influence on China.
In recent years, with the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Italy, bilateral political, economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation have been deepening constantly. Especially, President Hu Jintao's visit to Italy in this July promoted relationship between the two countries, which has entered into a new stage. This Forum on the Development of Tibet is an important component in the friendly communication between China and Italy. It is bound to play a role in promoting mutual understanding and enhancing friendship between our two peoples, in furthering China-Italy cooperation and exchange in economic, social and cultural fields, and in enriching and deepening the long-existing friendship between our two countries.
Modernization is a common pursuit of all countries and regions the world over. It is also a fundamental mission China has been facing in modern times. Situated on southwestern borders of China, Tibet is an ethnic autonomous region where Tibetans form the majority of the region's population. After the founding of the People's Republic of China [in 1949] and the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the region started its historical process toward modernization. In 1959, Tibet introduced Democratic Reform, abolishing the feudal serfdom of theocracy, a system even more backward than the Medieval Europe, and liberating 1 million serfs and slaves. This, to a great extent, emancipated social productive forces in Tibet and brought about historic changes in its social system, paving the way for Tibet's modernization drive. Over the past 50 years, with special attention from the Central Government and support from other localities nationwide, people of all ethnic groups in Tibet have united in achieving economic and social development in a frog-leaping manner by concerted efforts. Tibet has witnessed immense social changes with each passing day, with people's living standards enhanced greatly, and an unprecedented vitality for modernization has emerged. Although it lags far behind the coastal areas in southeast China in modernization levels due to restrictions from its natural, historical and social conditions, today's Tibet has undoubtedly embarked on the track of development in step with other parts of the country and is showing a good development prospect with its unique advantages.
Present at this Forum are officials of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Government, persons in charge of relevant departments and entrepreneurs. They are decision-makers, promoters, participants and witnesses of the social development in Tibet. They will bring to this Forum latest, first-hand information on Tibet's development and will discuss in an open manner with government officials, notable Tibetologist, experts and people from other walks of life from Italy and other countries, the development of Tibet and matters of cooperation. Such discussion is believed to be of great significance for enhancing the knowledge of Tibet of the Italian people and peoples of other countries in the world. It will also be of significance for promoting Tibet's opening to the outside world and cooperation with other countries and its sustainable development for the benefit of people of all ethnic groups in the region.
I sincerely hope that all friends speak out freely your opinions and suggestions on the development of Tibet, with an aim to make this Forum a highly efficient international platform for exchange of views and promotion of understanding, cooperation and development.
I wish the Second Forum on the Development of Tibet a great success!