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《Paris Summit》

Speech at the Opening Ceremony by Sophie Macario, Curator of Musée Guimet

 

Release Date: April 14th , 2014

Dear Mr. Raffarin, Former Prime Minister of France, Mr. Zhai Jun, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China, Ms. Zhang Meiying, Vice Chairwoman of the CPPCC, representatives of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, Fellow Scholars, Ladies and Friends:

It is a great pleasure for Musée Guimet to welcome you today to the 2014 Paris Summit of Taihu World Cultural Forum to discuss the Silk Road - the Eternal Channel for Cultural Communications between China and Western Countries. I would like to thank all parties concerned for mobilizing in such a short time to make this meeting possible, to Mr. de Calais and the relevant parties of Musée Guimet. Thank you very much!

       

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France. The two countries are great because they each enjoy a glorious past, but the two sides share the same definition of their identity, and so they come together. Former Prime Minister Raffarin said that diversity and harmony are highly appreciated in both Chinese and French culture, which is also the French cultural practice. The 50 years of diplomatic relations is only a small part of the friendship between China and France. Since the 14th century, Chinese porcelain has entered the homes of French Royal Palace nobles, including Charles V le Sage and Duke Belle, who once owned the oldest porcelain in France and even in Europe. In the 17th century, the European people were in love with the meticulous and exquisite culture from China. Out of our love for China, Musée Guimet has exhibited 5000 years of Chinese culture and art for the past 125 years, including precious items like jade, lacquerware, porcelain, bronzeware, silk, ink and paper. This exhibition looks back at China's development through 5000 years of history and culture. This is the second floor here, or the third floor from the ground. Today, you can visit for free with your conference certificates, and if you like, you can take a tour during tea break. Just now as the Vice Chairwoman of the CPPCC said, there was a Chinese Fever, or Chinoiserie among the aristocrats and bourgeoisie in the 18th century. Since the end of the 18th century, China has not only been the source of some luxury goods and exquisite products, but the Chinese thought has become more and more important. In fact, the translation of Confucius’ works into Latin had started as early as the 17th century. In addition, Voltaire was also exposed to the Chinese culture, which had a great influence on his works, including the Dictionnaire Philosophique (Dictionary of Philosophy), The Orphan of China, Interviews with China and The Literature of China, India and Dada. Another fact about Voltaire was that a portrait of Confucius was hung in his study. He once wrote: "China was unknown in the past, but China is the greatest in the world." So this year, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France, we should re-read Voltaire and let him bring us to China again. Through such exchanges, we see that China, both in the past and present, is an important trader to the whole world. Today's China, like in the past, is a great power of ideology. From 1575 to 1821, half of Europe's wealth was spent on buying Chinese luxury goods, including lacquerware and porcelain. In the 18th century, China accounted for half of the world's economy, and now China has become the second largest economy in the world. It is just a resonance to the past.

 

I agree with what Former Prime Minister Raffarin and the scholar Levistos said, that “China is so great”. Levistos saw the rise of China as well as the increasing world population. China accounted for one third of the world's population before the 19th century, and now it takes up one quarter. We can also refer to Napoleon, who said that when China wakes up like a lion, the world will shake, and shall evoke our thoughts. I am also very glad that in these two days of the meeting, we can revisit the exchanges of the past few centuries through the Silk Road. Thank you!

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