The former Italian president Romano Prodi addresses delegates at the opening ceremony of Beijing International Forum on People-to-People Friendship, held in Beijing on September 6, 2011.
Over 300 delegates representing cities in 20 countries, including United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, India, and Japan gathered in Beijing yesterday to strengthen ties and discover new avenues for mutual cooperation.
The two-day Beijing International Forum on People-to-People Friendship aims to promote interpersonal friendships, friendly relations and cooperation between Beijing and other cities around the world through nongovernmental exchange.
Former Italian president Romano Prodi, a keynote speaker at yesterday's opening ceremony, said the event would help build a bridge of nongovernmental contacts between nations, help the world understand China better, and improve China's relations with other countries. Prodi also said that China was a friend of Italy and he hoped people between the two countries could enhance their dialogue and cooperation.
Chinese delegates expect that exchanges with the international community will provide useful suggestions on how to further develop Beijing into a world city.
Zhao Jiaqi, president of the Beijing People's Association of Friendship with Foreign Countries, said he hoped Beijing could learn from other municipalities' and organizations' experiences through the forum.
He Luli, former vice-chairwoman of National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, attended the forum. Delegates also include other political figures, members of nongovernmental organizations, and members of Beijing's foreign community.
The forum is co-organized by the Beijing People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the Foreign Affairs Office of the People's Government of Beijing Municipality, the Information Office of the People's Government of the Beijing Municipality, Beijing NGO Association for International Exchanges and the government of Chaoyang District of Beijing.
Established in 1981, the Beijing People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries has made connections with 160 international organizations in 54 countries. The organization has made an active effort to modernize and globalize Beijing.