A 17-member delegation of senior officials from nine African ruling parties were fascinated by Chinese culture on their study-and-inspection tour around east China's Shandong Province.
"It's just like coming into a world of ancient Chinese culture, " said Bayingana from Rwanda while looking at a private collection of more than 10,000 ancient Buddhist sculptures in Zhucheng, a city in the southeast of Shandong Province.
Piling up in two company storehouses, the vivid, life-like sculptures, dating back from the Northern and Southern Dynasties ( 420-589 AD) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), ranged widely in height, from only 0.3 meters to four or five meters. Only one tenth of them were marked with years and dates, said Dou Baorong, the owner of the collection and also the directing manager of a local industrial and trade company.
The 10,000 pieces of sculptures were inherited from ancestors and the rest were collected during the past four decades after the 1960s, said Dou, who is the eighth descendant of a renowned court scholar named Dou Guangnai in the imperial Qing Dynasty.
"I have seen China's magnificent civilizations from the Buddhist sculptures," said Abdillahi Adaweh Mireh, a senior official from the Popular Rally for Progress of Djibouti and who is also a professor of philosophy in his country.
On hearing that a special art museum will be set up soon by the government and the collector to protect these priceless cultural relics, Habibou, the head of the delegation, expressed his appreciation.
"When everything is gone, only the culture still remains and will remain forever, " said Habibou, adding that it is always important for both China and African countries to protect their culture.
The African party officials arrived at Zhucheng Wednesday afternoon when they finished their tour in Qingdao. They also visited the Laoshan Mountain, a scenic spot renowned for Taoism in Qingdao in the morning and a dinosaur park in Zhucheng in the afternoon.
The delegation is here as guest of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. Shandong, a coastal province in east China, is the third leg of their 16-day tour in China.
The 17 members of the delegation are from ruling parties in Cameroon, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Madagascar, Niger, Rwanda, Seychelles and Togo.