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State gifts: Historical Testament to Friendly Exchanges

By Guo Meichen (People's Daily Online)    09:36, May 07, 2018

State gifts: "Historical Testament to Friendly Exchanges" is an exhibition of 611 gifts Party and government leaders have received since the founding of the People's Republic of China. They have been carefully selected from the collection of the National Museum of China, and most of them have never been exhibited before.

These gifts are a testament to the success of China’s diplomacy over the past 60-plus years, an expression of the harmonious connection between the Chinese people and the people of other countries, and a reflection of the unique culture and art of different nations around the world, possessing unique historical significance and high artistic value.

Stone model of the Taj Mahal, presented to Zhou Enlai on behalf of the municipal government of Agra, India in June 1954.

Lacquer vase inlaid with mother-of-pearl, presented to Mao Zedong by Kim Eung-ki, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the DPRK’s Supreme People’s Assembly, in 1954.

Doll clothed in silk holding an umbrella, presented to Zhou Enlai by Shozo Murata, President of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of Overseas Trade in October 1956.

Porcelain swans, presented to Mao Zedong by Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States in February 1972. Swans are regarded as a symbol of happiness in the USA. In this particular piece, the male swan cranes his neck and flaps his wings, while the female swan bows her head and looks after her three children. Nixon was fond of this ideal and brought the gift to the Great Hall of the People the first time he visited China. Today, these porcelain swans are displayed in a protective glass cabinet in the national museum, still vivid and incredibly beautiful even though 46 years have passed, just like the continued Sino-US relations. 

Chest of an old man carved in wood, presented to Mao Zedong by President Marien Ngouabi of the People’s Republic of Congo (now the Republic of Congo) in July 1973.

Tapestry of the Amazon River, presented to Mao Zedong by French President Georges Pompidou in September 1973. The glorious sunshine of South America, the rushing rivers, and the thriving rainforest spread out over a two-meter-long wall hanging, reflecting the spectacular scenery of the Amazon River. On September 11, 1973, this tapestry took a plane from Paris to Beijing. Pompidou, who took the same plane, was suffering from cancer at the time, but he refused to adhere to the doctor's objections and insisted on visiting China… The old friends have both since passed away but the gift will be preserved forever, as a witness to the long standing friendship between China and France. 

Silver cigarette case, presented to Deng Xiaoping by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This case was specially made longer than average in order to cater for Deng Xiaoping’s cigarette habit. There is no extra decoration on it except a few small unnoticeable patterns. Among all the dazzling objects in the exhibition hall, this small silver cigarette case seems so ordinary it may be overlooked, whereas its significance is so great it cannot be ignored. It was shipped from London to Beijing on September 22, 1982, the day that Margaret Thatcher and Deng Xiaoping first discussed negotiations on Hong Kong’s return to China.

Silver sculpture of a soldier riding a camel, presented to Li Xiannian by King Hussein bin Talal of Jordan in September 1983.

Wooden sculpture of elephant with silver inlay and embedded stones, presented to Deng Xiaoping by Sri Lankan President Junius Richard Jayewardene. In Sri Lanka, magnificent elephant parades are held each year in mid-August. Each elephant participating in the parade is decorated from nose to toe. The dexterous Sri Lankans made a statue from this scene. In May 1984, Sri Lanka’s former president, Jayewardene gave it to Deng Xiaoping. The elephant is encased in a gem-encrusted gold and silver armor. What is unusual is that it bears the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Sri Lanka’s national treasure, on its back. This is an honor that is bestowed only on the leading elephant in the parade.

Hawksbill folding fan, presented to Jiang Zemin by the Le Kha Phieu, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, in February 1999.

Silver model of the People’s Fountain presented to Xi Jinping by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in June 2011. 

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(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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