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Europe – Asia Center

Europe – Asia Center: High-Level Visit of the China International Youth Exchange Center

Brussels, May 11th, 2024

On Friday, 10th of May, a high-level delegation from the Europe-Asia Center, led by its two Co-Chairs, the former UN Undersecretary General H.E. Erik Solheim and former Ambassador to the UN H.E. Jean de Ruyt, and including former UNESCO Director General H.E. Irina Bokova, Vice-Chair Sheila Arora, Vice-Chair Wei Shen, Secretary-General Rui Yan, and Programme Coordinator Jonathan Schwestka, met with the China International Youth Exchange Center (CIYEC), the international youth exchange and cooperation arm of the All-China Youth Federation.

During their in-depth discussions, both sides highlighted the crucial role of youth in tackling global challenges and improving Europe-China relations. They explored a range of opportunities to enhance youth exchanges between East and West. Specifically, the two parties agreed to closely collaborate collaborate to orchestrate a diverse array of cultural and sports exchange initiatives for young individuals from China and Europe. Such efforts will encompass training programs for young professionals, joint endeavors in green development, and the facilitation of exchange programs for aspiring entrepreneurs and startup founders.

Highlighting that this year marked the commencement of a new 20-year chapter for the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, Liu Aiping, Chairman of the Governing Council of CIYEC, expressed the organization's readiness to bolster cultural exchanges and practical cooperation among the youth of China and Europe.

Erik Solheim, Co-Chair of the Europe Asia Center, emphasized the profound significance of global youth exchanges and cooperation in fostering world peace, development, and progress. He articulated his aspiration for the creation of more opportunities for young individuals from China and Europe in realms like technological innovation, environmental preservation, culture, and sports.

Li Xiaodong, member of the 13th Standing Committee of the All-China Youth Federation and Founding Director of Fuxi Institution, highlighted China's burgeoning digital economy and its vast potential for collaboration with Europe. He advocated for the sharing of knowledge, technology, and experiences between the two sides to address challenges and achieve mutually beneficial cooperation.

Jean De Ruyt, Co-Chair of the Europe-Asia Center, emphasized the indispensable role of dialogue and communication between China and Europe in fostering mutual understanding and addressing cooperative challenges, with youth playing a pivotal role in this process. He cited the EU's existing exchange mechanisms, such as the Erasmus program, as examples of initiatives aimed at strengthening interactions among young individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Xu Weihua, Deputy Director of the Institute of National Parks at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, underscored the longstanding collaborative foundation between China and Europe in biodiversity conservation, and advocated for enhanced cooperation to address climate change challenges and promote mutually beneficial cooperation with the assistance of young scientists from both regions.

Irina Bokova, distinguished friend of the Europe-Asia Center, highlighted the creativity, curiosity, and independent insights of youth in addressing global challenges such as climate change, energy crises, and environmental issues, and stressed the vast potential of youth exchange and cooperation between China and Europe in this regard.

Aiken Zou Shasha, Founder and CEO of AHA Entertainment (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., and a young global leader at the World Economic Forum in Davos, emphasized culture as a unifying force for youth exchanges across nations, and expressed her aspiration to strengthen exchanges and collaborations in cultural creativity, particularly in animation, with European youth organizations and partners.

Sheila Arora, Vice-Chair of the Europe Asia Center, advocated for the establishment of platforms that facilitate the growth and broaden the horizons of more youth from China and Europe, and expressed the desire to witness increased cultural exchanges between the East and the West, encouraging youth from diverse backgrounds to actively participate in the cultural and creative industries.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the two institutions expressed support for closer collaboration and even signed a memorandum of understanding, marking a significant step forward in their collaboration.

Jonathan Schwestka, Project Coordinator at the Europe-Asia Center, showed great satisfaction iwth the outcomes of the meeting, and stated: "Youth are the bridge between our continents, and investing in their potential is key to building a strong and lasting connection between the EU and Asia. Therefore, the MoU with CIYEC represents a significant commitment to fostering these vital youth exchanges and enhancing our collaborative efforts for a brighter future."

For press enquiries:

Jonathan Schwestka, Project Coordinator, Europe – Asia Center


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