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African Visitors: China Tour 'Great Learning Experience'

Cultural officials from 11 African countries said Wednesday they have benefited greatly from their two-week trip in China, proposing more cultural exchanges between China and Africa.

The visit has been "a great learning experience" for African ministries and departments of culture, Musamba Weseley Kaonga from Zambia, said in his keynote speech at a summary seminar of the 2007 African Cultural Visitors Program.

"It has enabled the participants to appreciate the need to adapt some of the policies and strategies that China has utilized to develop a viable cultural sector," said Kaonga on behalf of all the delegates.

Seventeen cultural officials from Benin, Botswana, Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia toured Beijing, south China's Shenzhen and northwestern province of Gansu from Oct. 12 to 25, learning about China's experience of urban cultural industry development and rural cultural service construction.

China has a deliberate and clear cultural policy, said Victor Makashi from Zambia. "The government has heavily invested in the preservation of cultural relics and the promotion of the arts as tourism resources."

Arts and culture are not just entertainment and reaction in China but a serious cause, supporting economic development, creating jobs and also used as means to preserve the social identity of ethnic minorities in China, he said.

Participants of the program proposed to set up more Chinese cultural centers in African countries apart from assisting infrastructure projects so as to help more Africans to know about China.

Besides the current exchange of visits for performing troupes, the delegates proposed a mechanism for exchange of skills and expertise between Chinese and African cultural ministries.

Dineo Naomi Phuti from Botswana suggested to launch a China-Africa cultural ministers forum to let more senior officials in Africa learning from the practices of China and attach more importance to culture.

The African cultural visitors program, set up by China's Ministry of Culture in 2006, is a long-term program of cultural cooperation and exchanges between China and African countries.

(Xinhua News Agency October 25, 2007)

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