About 500 people gathered in the Great Hall of the People on March 4 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Beijing Review and the publication of the magazine's North American edition and Chinafrique, its new monthly in French.
More than 200 staff members of Beijing Review attended the happy gathering. Song Ping, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC)Central Committee, Huang Hua, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, and State Councilor Chen Muhua were among the guests, along with other leaders from Party departments, government ministries and people's organizations, distinguished figures from other circles, and foreign experts and friends.
Messages of congratulation from Acting Premier Li Peng were read out at the gathering. He paid tribute to the magazine for its efforts to strengthen the friendship between China and other countries, and to make China understood abroad.
Speaking on behalf of Hu Qili, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of CPC Central Committee, Rui Xingwen, member of the secretariat of the Party Central Committee, conveyed congratulations and encouraged the magazine to continue its efforts to introduce all aspects of China to foreign countries. Wang Meng, Minister of Culture, urged Beijing Review staff to make the magazine more lively, more informative and more varied.
Beijing Review, China's only foreign-language weekly on current affairs, is read in more than 150 countries. The magazine has seen tremendous changes in the past 30 years. It appeared only in English when it was first published in March 1958. To meet the needs of readers in non-English speaking countries, French, Spanish and Japanese editions were launched in 1963, and a German edition in 1964.
"I have been a reader of Beijing Review since it started publishing its Japanese edition," Masao Shimizu, chief director of the Japan-China Friendship Association, said in his greetings to the gathering.
Shimizu, who said he was on his 71st trip to China, continued, "I can really understand what kinds of efforts and progress it has made. Beijing Review is striving to voice the aspirations of the Chinese people to other countries in the world. I think the work done by the staff of Beijing Review is creative, and the staff members of the magazine are artists."
The Japan-China Friendship Association has 35,000 members, many of whom are readers of Beijing Review. There is also a Friend of Beijing Review association in Japan, with about 100 members, which holds two or three meetings a year to discuss key articles.
Duncan McFarland, editor of U.S.-China Review, addressed the gathering on behalf of the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association; Noelle Simon spoke for the France-China Friendship Association; Martin Claus from the Federal Republic of Germany-China Friendship Association conveyed his greetings in Chinese.
Christopher Noyes spoke for China Books and Periodicals of the United States, the company responsible for printing and distributing Beijing Review's North American edition. The edition carries eight pages of reports on Sino-U.S. and Sino-Canadian relations, and other issues of special interest to North American readers, in addition to the contents of the regular magazine.
"The establishment of the North American edition of the Beijing Review comes at a particularly important time," said Noyes. "Significant economic and political changes are occurring, which will shape the futures of both of our countries and indeed the future of all the peoples of the world. At this juncture, it is particularly important that the voice of China be heard and understood by those throughout the world who will be instrumental in formulating and influencing these changes."
He continued, "Though Beijing Review and other periodicals may not bring in much of a profit, their role in laying the bases for multimillion-dollar agreements between the financial institutions and business enterprises of our two countries and also for a profitable and ever enlarging tourist trade is most important, as is also the function of these magazines in promoting goodwill and understanding between the American and Chinese peoples which can not be calculated in dollars or yuan."
Noyes presented Wang Youfen, Beijing Review's chief executive, with a 2-metre-long birthday card in the form of a Chinese scroll.
The ambassadors of Benin, Niger and Ivory Coast attended the birthday reception. Addressing the gathering, Benin's Ambassador Cosme Ahannon Deguenon congratulated Beijing Review on its anniversary and on the publication of Chinafrique.
Chinafrique deals with issues of special interest to African readers, such as China's efforts to feed its huge population, its battle against drought and the spreading of deserts, and the way China tackles its family planning problems. The monthly also discusses Sino-African co-operation and carries analytical reports on the development of African countries. It has received a warm response from African diplomats and students in Beijing, who have called it an expression of "South-South cooperation."
"There is no need to declare here how much the heads of African diplomatic missions accredited to China and all the people of Africa rejoice and feel honored by the appearance in recent months of this magazine, which aims to be an instrument for the reinforcement and consolidation of the ties between the Chinese and African peoples." the ambassador said.
Francoise Vaucamps, a foreign expert in the French-language department who spoke on behalf of all the foreign experts working at Beijing Review, also mentioned the magazine's efforts to respond to the needs of readers in different countries.
"My almost three years of work at Beijing Review have been a most enriching experience for me," she said. "They have not only enabled me to know China better, but also to make better known to French-speaking foreign readers this country, which has offered me its hospitality for what will soon be 10 years."
In his speech, Wang Youfen expressed particular thanks to the foreign experts, past and present, who have worked at Beijing Review, and foreign friends who have helped it. "Without their assistance, Beijing Review, would not have been able to come this far," he said.
Speaking on behalf of the entire staff of Beijing Review, Wang promised that the magazine will strive to work more effectively to promote international friendship and understanding.
(This article appears on page 5, VOL.31 NO.11 MARCH 14-20, 1988)