As more than 400 people, including 200 young people from all over the EU and China, filled up the room, the 2011 EU-China Year of Youth was officially launched at the European commission in Brussels by Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth
and Wang Xiao, President of the All-China Youth Federation
, in the presence of Miklós Soltész, Hungarian Minister of State responsible for Social, Family and Youth Affairs, of Ambassador Song Zhe, Head of the Mission of China to the EU and of German Olympic gold-medal winning fencer Britta Heidemann
, one of the goodwill Ambassadors of the Year.
Commissioner Vassiliou and ACYF President Wang Xiao signed a joint declaration aimed at promoting and deepening partnership by strengthening cooperation and people to people contacts in the youth field.
During this first launch event, youth representatives from both continents took part in workshops and debates on four main topics: Non-formal learning and youth work activities for young people; Youth volunteering; Student exchanges, researchers' and academic mobility; Access of young people to culture and creativity. The workshops offered the opportunity to exchange experiences, contacts and project ideas between the Chinese and European participants, as well as to set up future partnerships.
To mark doubly the Year's official launch, a second ceremony in Beijing will take place in February. Other flagships events scheduled throughout the year will include a Europe-China Youth Culture Week and a Europe-China Youth Festival. Grassroots initiatives such as exchanges, seminars and networking activities – supported by the EU's Youth in Action Programme - will aim to deepen cooperation and partnership.
The Year of Youth should bring the mutual understanding and friendship between the youth of Europe and China to new highs!