'Key to Prague' symbolizes partnership

Updated: 2016-03-31 07:40

By Hu Yongqi(China Daily)

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'Key to Prague' symbolizes partnership

Fireworks light the night along the Vltava River in Prague on Tuesday as part of the opening ceremony of the Fantastic Terracotta Fighting Warriors exhibition in the capital of the Czech Republic. Two boats with a total of 60 illuminated terracotta warriors will cruise the river to celebrate the naming, during President Xi Jinping's visit, of Prague and Beijing as sister cities. Qian Yi / Xinhua

President Xi Jinping received a token of the highest honor from Prague on Tuesday, after the capital of the Czech Republic became Beijing's 53rd sister city.

Prague Mayor Adriana Krnacova presented the "Key to Prague" - representing deepening friendship and partnership with China - to Xi soon after Krnacova signed an agreement with Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun on the new sister city status.

Beijing, a growing center for international exchanges, now has sister cities in 48 countries.

The agreement, which came during Xi's state visit to the Central European country, will boost the cooperation of both capitals on culture, healthcare, education, tourism and sports.

President Xi said the key, representing the deep friendship between the Czech and Chinese people, will remind him of Prague as a world cultural heritage site with beautiful landscapes and deep-rooted cultural traditions.

The president said exchanges between Chinese and Czech cities are key to the development of the two countries' bilateral relationship, adding that he hoped both capitals will bring about new breakthroughs in relations and local cooperation. Krnacova echoed his views and said she was excited to see Xi at the signing ceremony for the sister-city agreement.

As part of the agreement, the Beijing Commission of Tourism Development will help Prague review Chinese-language promotional materials for the city and make logos in Mandarin for tourism sites in Prague, according to the Foreign Affairs Office of Beijing.

The two capitals began official exchanges in 1956 and have achieved progress in bilateral trade and cooperation in healthcare, cultural exchanges and tourism promotion since 2014, when Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek visited China.

Over the past two years, Beijing sent two high-ranking delegations of officials and entrepreneurs to the China Investment Forum in Prague. In December, Beijing Tong Ren Tang Group Co opened a traditional Chinese medicine clinic in Prague.

In October 2014, Karel Pech, chairman and founder of the Czech-Chinese Friendship Association, visited a pharmacy owned by Tong Ren Tang Group in downtown Beijing and saw firsthand how TCM doctors treated patients.

Dr. MAX - one of the largest pharmacy chains in Central Europe, with more than 500 pharmacies serving 130,000 customers daily - signed a cooperation agreement with Tong Ren Tang in December 2014, according to the Beijing People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. One year later, the clinic was established.