Updated: 2011-07-08 10:57

(China Daily European Weekly)

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Diplomatic pouch: With Mike Peters

The French Chamber of Commerce and Ambassador to China Sylvie Bermann will welcome business partners, friends and all French nationals in the Chinese capital to celebrate the country's July 14 national day, more colorfully known as Bastille Day. Tastings of French cuisine and wines are planned as a sign of "good humor and friendliness", the embassy website says. French consulates in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou will also host festivities.

The Royal Society awarded the King Charles II medal to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his recent visit, the British embassy in Beijing announced. The medal was awarded at a special ceremony at the Royal Society, where Premier Wen gave the only speech of his UK visit. The King Charles II medal is awarded to foreign heads of state or government who have been leaders in furthering scientific research in their countries.

Since taking office in 2003, the embassy said, Wen has "overseen one of the most ambitious programs of national research investment the world has ever seen. Science and technology have been placed at the heart of China's planning and national development and it is recognized as a common value to human kind through school and university education".

Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, said: "Co-operation based on openness, the free exchange of ideas and mutual respect, allows a shared sense of purpose in addressing global problems. It increases enlightenment and leads to a better quality of life for all. China and Britain both have long traditions of science and its application. We have much we can learn from each other and much we can gain from collaboration."

Ministers from the member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) - Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland - and Hong Kong have signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The FTA will further enhance the economic ties and promote trade and investment between the two sides. For the first time, the EFTA negotiated a free trade agreement with a separate chapter on trade and environment.

The EFTA-Hong Kong, China FTA was signed by Aurelia Frick, minister of foreign affairs of Liechtenstein; ssur Skarphinsson, minister for foreign affairs and external trade of Iceland; Rikke Lind, state secretary, ministry of trade and industry of Norway; and Johann Schneider-Ammann, federal councilor and head of the federal department of economic affairs of Switzerland; as well as by Gregory So Kam-leung, acting secretary for commerce and economic development of Hong Kong. Norwegian environment and international development minister Erik Solheim said the chapter on trade and environment is "an important contribution to ensuring that our trade with Hong Kong is contributing to sustainable development".

An EFTA meeting in 2010 agreed to include a chapter on trade and sustainable development in all free trade agreements.

The Austrian embassy announced the return of the guitarist duo of Michael Langer and Sabine Ramusch. In 2009, with a repertoire that closely connects classical music and jazz, the two made their guitars mimic the sound effects of a large orchestra to enthusiastic audiences in Huizhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan and Beijing. This time, they will perform in the cities of Shenzhen (July 14), Guangzhou (July 15), Xuzhou (July 16), Beijing (July 17) and Tianjin (July 18).

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