Wien, 18. October 2004 Press release

International Cultural Policy – Intensification of cultural and scientific exchange with the People's Republic of China

18.10.2004

Opening of the 29th Austrian Cultural Forum in Beijing

Vienna, 18 October 2004 - The 29th and thus youngest Austrian Cultural Forum was officially inaugurated by the Federal Minister for Education, Science and Culture, Elisabeth Gehrer, in the Chinese capital on 18 October 2004. The last opening of an Austrian Cultural Forum took place in Belgrade two years ago. With the new Cultural Forum, Austria for the first time has its own facility for the support and coordination of cultural and research projects in the growth region of China.

The Cultural Forum Beijing will be managed by sinologist and political scientist Mag. Gabriele Feigl. Before assuming this function, the latter served at the Press and Information Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs as well as at the Permanent Representation of Austria to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

On the occasion of her official visit to the People's Republic of China last November, Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner specifically underlined the importance of the growing cultural and scientific exchange between the PR of China and Austria. With the opening of the Cultural Forum in Beijing, the increased expectations with regard to cultural and scientific exchange projects in both countries can now be fulfilled by an adequate structure. There are also hopes that the PR of China will expand its cultural presence in Austria. In addition to serving China, the Cultural Forum will also cover the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Mongolia.

Presentations of Austria's contemporary cultural scene are taking place around the opening date of the Cultural Forum. The exhibition entitled "Made by Nature" by photographer and concept artist Robert F. Hammerstiel will be on display at the Forbidden City, and the Viennese String Soloists will perform a concert within the framework of the 7th Beijing International Music Festival. A music festival in Beijing with ensembles from the countries of the "Central European Cultural Platform" and a large exhibition of contemporary Austrian painting in several Chinese cities are planned for 2005 as a joint programme by the State Secretariat for the Arts and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.