Foreign VIPs get an intimate taste of the city

A group of foreign VIPs was taken on a tour to mark Hangzhou International Day, giving them a taste of the city's ancient history and its modern future.

The roof garden at the Hangzhou International Expo Center

About 90 diplomats and foreign businesspeople from more than 30 countries were invited to this year’s annual Hangzhou International Day on Tuesday to learn about the city’s history and economy.

Apart from an immersive cultural experience at the Southern Song Imperial Town, elements from the G20 Summit in Hangzhou last year were included in the guided tour.

The summit venue — the Hangzhou International Expo Center — has been open to public since last September. Tourists are able to visit the reception hall, the convention room, the banquet room, and a Chinese-style garden on the roof.

The design of the 2,000-square-meter convention room borrows from the Chinese belief that “the heaven is round while the earth is flat and square.” A huge round table is placed in the middle with 35 rosewood Ming Dynasty-style (1368-1644) armchairs for the participating country heads and delegates from international organizations.

Twelve woodcarved panels of typical Chinese scene are on the walls, separated by Chinese-style lattice windows. Patterns of sweet osmanthus, the city flower of Hangzhou, can be found on ceiling lights, together with plum blossoms.

Another highlight is the roof garden. Overseeing the Qiantang River, the garden is in classical style and houses more than 10,000 species of plants.

A moon gate topped by winged gables is positioned at one end, extended by galleries (covered corridors) encircling the garden. The steps at the other end lead to the banquet room where President Xi Jinping had lunch with his guests.

From the garden, you can see two stadiums in the shape of lotus flowers under construction. They will be the venues for the Asian Games in 2022.

Foreign visitors listen to an introduction to Hangzhou’s history in a museum.

Shanghai Daily reporter spoke to some of those who attended this year’s Hangzhou International Day

“It is my first time to Hangzhou, and I’m very impressed that the city has so much greenery. I find people here are especially quick to embrace new technology.”

Brigitte Robinson-Seyrlehner, consul general of Austria in Shanghai

“Hangzhou has changed a lot in recent years. There is a vibrant modern and energetic side to it. I always find the energy here very attractive.”

Dmytro Ponomarenko, consul general of Ukraine in Shanghai

“Compared to bigger cities like Shanghai, Hangzhou’s advantages lie in its history and culture. The G20 Summit has made more people aware of the city, and then you have Asian Games in 2022. I think that will bring more opportunities.”

Loh Tuck Wai, consul general of Singapore in Shanghai

“I love Hangzhou. I find it very similar to Kraków, a city in Poland, which also has a lot of trees and is rich in history. And the city is developing fast, with more subway lines being added.”

Grzegorz Calik, president of the EU-Asia Foundation for Business Education

“I like the way they have preserved the old part of the city. And we are always eager to expand the Chinese market through companies such as Alibaba.”

Martin Rivolta, consul general of Argentina in Shanghai

“Last year a direct flight from Hangzhou to Vancouver was launched. And this month, Jack Ma will be in Canada to promote his e-commerce business. I think the city has a lot to share with Canadian people in terms of business, tourism and education. It takes time for people to realize its beauty and importance.”

Jose Sia, consul for Political, Economic and Public Affairs of Consulate General of Canada in Shanghai

People visit Hefang Street as part of the activities of Hangzhou International Day.

Two foreigners taste traditional herbal tea at Hu Qing Yu Tang pharmacy.

People visit the G20 Summit venue, the Hangzhou International Expo Center.

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