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EU-China 'Year of Youth' campaign begins

Updated: 2011-01-12 07:41

By Fu Jing (China Daily)

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BRUSSELS - China and the European Union (EU) launched a one-year campaign on Tuesday to forge trust and understanding between their future leaders in an effort to sustain smooth bilateral relations.

Androulla Vassiliou, the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth and Wang Xiao, the President of the All-China Youth Federation, opened the EU-China Year of Youth in the European capital, in the presence of 200 young people from the EU and China.

EU-China 'Year of Youth' campaign begins

Hannah Dunham, a US student earning her master's degree at the University of Vienna and Hu Yang, a student at the Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics, share their thoughts and experiences at an EU-China Year of Youth workshop held in Brussels on Tuesday. [Fu Jing / China Daily]

Another high-profile opening ceremony is reportedly scheduled in China next month.

Proposed by Premier Wen Jiabao in 2009, the one-year youth exchange has been accompanied by frequent top-level visits between China and EU and its member states.

Currently, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang is on the final leg of his tours in Spain, Germany and the UK after President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen paid their respective visits in November and October last year in Europe. Both Hu and Li themselves started their political careers as top leaders of Wang's federation.

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The EU has paid high attention to the bilateral youth exchange and Britta Heidemann, Germany's 2008 Olympic fencing champion, has been named as the EU-China youth ambassador,

Vassiliou and Wang also signed a joint declaration on Tuesday to establish a policy dialogue in youth affairs.

"The Year will provide an interactive platform for European and Chinese young people to enhance mutual understanding and friendship through creativity, tolerance and openness," said Wang. "We hope they can open a new page of people-to-people contacts between Europe and China."

Along with the launch ceremony in Brussels, Chinese and European youth have been immersed in three-day discussions on culture, education, economy and foreign affairs from Monday.

Hannah Dunham, a US student earning her master's degree at the University Vienna, has joined the discussions, saying face-to-face exchanges have improved her understanding of China, which is often portrayed by the Western media as "taking our jobs, polluting and scary".

"But from communication, we found that it is not true and we have been offered more perspectives to look at China, which is so prominent," said Dunham, who has spent the last half year studying Chinese.

Dunham said she has learned more about China than most people outside the country and that frequent exchanges and communication are vital for them to understand China.

Hu Yang, a student of Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics is always inviting Europeans to visit China during her one-week stay in Europe.

"We can see each other but we could not touch," said Yu, suggesting the governments both in EU and China should focus on removing such "glass doors".

EU has launched an EU Youth in Action program, which has an annual budget of around 140 million euros ($181 million), offering funding for informal learning, volunteering abroad and the development of the youth sector beyond the EU borders.

The EU encouraged the youth in Europe and China to offer proposals for the international youth projects, which will include a special focus on China.

On the heels of the youth exchange year, 2012 has been designated as the EU-China Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

Vassiliou boasted that the EU-China Year of Youth will open up new horizons for young people by enabling them to share experiences and learn from each other.

"I hope that such exchanges will inspire concrete ideas for cooperation and establish long-lasting partnerships," said Vassiliou.






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