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The Opening Ceremony of Russia Tourism Year Held in Beijing Premier Wen Jiabao and Russian Prime Minister Putin Send Congratulatory Messages Vice Premier Wang Qishan and Deputy Prime Minister Surkov Attend and Address the Opening Ceremony

On the evening of March 23, 2012, the opening ceremony of "Russia Tourism Year" in China was held at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing.

The opening ceremony kicked off in the solemn national anthems of China and Russia. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin both sent a special congratulatory message. Wang Qishan, Vice Premier of the State Council and Chairman of the Organizing Committee for Russia Tourism Year and China Tourism Year on the Chinese side and Vladislav Surkov, Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of the Organizing Committee for Russia Tourism Year and China Tourism Year on the Russian side delivered warm speeches.

Wen Jiabao said in the congratulatory message that China and Russia are friendly neighbors, the friendly exchanges between the two peoples have a long history and the two peoples have established profound friendship. In recent years, the two sides are committed to developing a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership based on equality, mutual trust, mutual support, common prosperity and generational friendship. The two sides have also engaged in cooperation in a wide range of areas including politics, economy, energy, science, technology, military affairs, culture, local exchanges and international affairs. The two sides have built up a relationship based on mutual trust, mutual benefit and mutual assistance. The bilateral relations have reached an unprecedented level. The key to sound relations between states lies in amity between the people and the key to amity between the people lies in heart-to-heart exchanges. To further strengthen bilateral personnel exchanges, deepen communication and understanding between the two peoples and carry forward the peaceful concept of generational friendship is the common aspiration of the two people and is out of the need to deepen the comprehensive China-Russia strategic partnership of cooperation. Tourism is the most natural, most effective way to promote the friendly exchanges between the two peoples. China and Russia have rich tourism resources and are both big tourism countries. The two countries enjoy every advantage to carry out bilateral tourism cooperation. The Chinese and Russian people are both hospitable nations. The successful holding of the "Russia Tourism Year" in China will further promote bilateral tourism cooperation. China welcomes more Russian friends to travel to China and China also encourages more Chinese citizens to travel to Russia.

In his congratulatory message, Putin said that the grand opening of the "Russia Tourism Year" in China has once again demonstrated that the bilateral political, economic and cultural cooperation has entered a fast-growth track and has reached a high level. The bilateral cooperation in international affairs has also continued to rise. The Russia-China strategic cooperative partnership, which is based on common fundamental interests of the two peoples, covers various fields, is constructive and is growing in terms of contents. Further deepening mutual understanding and trust will have far-reaching significance. It is extremely important for the two sides to join hands to expand the basis of public opinion for China-Russia relationship and pass on Russia-China friendship from generation to generation. During the period of the "Russia Tourism Year", a series of big events will be held. The Chinese friends will have the opportunity to approach the Russian contemporary life, understand the rich cultural heritages, unique natural scenery, architecture, and famous scenic and historical sites, and feel the diverse customs of different ethnic groups in Russia. He also expressed the belief that the holding of the Russia Tourism Year in China and China Tourism Year in Russia will greatly promote exchanges between the two peoples and further increase the relationship between the two countries and their people.

Wang Qishan said in his address that holding the Russia Tourism Year and China Tourism Year is an important decision made by President Hu Jintao and President Medvedev and a major event in China-Russia friendly exchanges. This year, the "Russia Tourism Year" will be held in China and the two sides will hold more than 200 various events. This is conducive to deepening the bilateral cooperation in tourism and enhancing understanding and friendship between the two peoples. China will work together with Russia to make sound preparations to organize the event, fully tap the deep historical and cultural heritage of the two countries, show the infinite charms of the tourism resources of the two countries and cultivate tourism into a new highlight in China-Russia strategic cooperation.

Surkov said in his speech that people-to-people exchanges are an important support to the Russia-China strategic partnership of cooperation. Russia attaches great importance to the "Russia Tourism Year" in China in 2012 and the "China Tourism Year" in Russia in 2013. He hoped that with the joint efforts, the two sides could turn the "Tourism Year" into another memorable event in the good-neighborly and friendly relations between the two countries and rewrite the glories of the "National Year" and the "Language Year". He believed that the "Russia Tourism Year" will inject new vitalities into the tourism cooperation between the two countries. A new round of Russia fever and China fever will further shorten the distance between the two peoples and deepen mutual understanding and trust between the two peoples.

After the opening ceremony, Wang Qishan and Surkov, together with Chinese foreign guests, watched the wonderful performances presented by Russian artists. The performance was unveiled with the classic song and dance - "Russia Today". The imaginative music and graceful dance aroused great interests from the audience. "Lake Baikal", "St. Petersburg", "the North of Russia" and other programs vividly displayed Russia's natural landscape, cultural heritage and local feature in a variety of forms of artistic expression. The warm applause and cheerful rhythm have brought the audience and the actors on stage into a perfect harmony. The whole performance came to an end in the beautiful song of "Russia Welcomes You".

The members of the Organizing Committee for Russia Tourism Year and China Tourism Year attended the opening ceremony and watched the performance.

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