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Xi Jinping Visits Site of Lyon Sino-French Institute, Looking Back Upon Bilateral Friendly Exchanges and Into Future of China-France Friendship

2014/03/26

In the morning of March 26 local time, President Xi Jinping visited the site of the Lyon Sino-French Institute in France.

For almost 100 years, the site of the Lyon Sino-French Institute towers quietly on the hill of Fourvière. The name of the Institute carved in both Chinese and French on the gate of the stone fortress has been witnessing vicissitudes of the history.

Xi Jinping and his wife Mme. Peng Liyuan, accompanied by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Mayor of Lyon Gérard Collomb, walked through the lush green campus to the main building, and together inaugurated the China-Lyon Relations Promotion Center and the History Museum of the Lyon Sino-French Institute.

Xi Jinping said that, the Lyon Sino-French Institute has witnessed a special history of bilateral exchanges and recorded two important pieces of history of China’s foreign exchanges over the modern times. China is willing to work with France to sort, protect and study the relevant literature. He expected more Chinese people to visit the Institute and wished a constant deepening of Lyon-China exchanges.

All those historical pictures and precious objects were left for the later generations to recollect. Xi Jinping stopped to contemplate silently from time to time. Nearly 100 years ago, groups of Chinese young people harboring the dream of saving the nation, traveled far away abroad to learn new ideas, new knowledge and new concepts. Many of them chose France as their destination, among whom were Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping and Chen Yi, the founders of the People’s Republic of China, as well as scientists like Qian Sanqiang and Yan Jici, artists like Xu Beihong and Xian Xinghai, litterateurs like Ba Jin and Qian Zhongshu. As the only overseas university institution that China founded in modern times, the Lyon Sino-French Institute was established in July, 1921, and cultivated many leading figures for the construction of the People’s Republic of China. After its resumption in the 1980s, the Institute has continued to educate various talents for China’s reform and opening-up, adding a new chapter of bilateral people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

Xi Jinping thanked the city of Lyon for devoting huge efforts to keeping these historical materials under sound preservation. When learning Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit, Li Zhihua, the 99-year-old famous Chinese translator residing in France, rode his wheelchair back to his alma mater. He used to spend 27 years to finish the French translation of the whole book of “A Dream of Red Mansions”, and was the first person introducing this Chinese classic masterpiece to France. Xi Jinping asked about his life and health, and highly praised him as an outstanding representative of the students of the Lyon Sino-French Institute for his spirit of dedication and his academic talent.

Toward the alumni of the Sino-French Institute and friends from the local communities at present, Xi Jinping said, some of you have made important contributions to the Institute, some have become the messengers of cultures and some are working on the front line of China-France exchanges and cooperation. Hope you will continue your care and support for the development of the China-France relations.

Xi Jinping pointed out that the exchanges between the Chinese and French peoples are much more frequent than ever before. Currently, the number of overseas students in exchange between China and France is close to 50,000. The spirit of China-France friendship embodied by the Lyon Sino-French Institute will surely be handed down and carried forward from generation to generation.

Wang Huning, Li Zhanshu, Yang Jiechi and others were in company during the visit.

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