The Awards as a Mark of Appreciation from China to International Friends
On 8 December 2009 Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn paid a visit to the People's Republic of China to attend the awards ceremony for the cyber-selection event "Chinese Connection - Top Ten International Friends of China" at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, People’s Republic of China. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and the other prize winners were presented with the Commemorative Badges and the Certificate from Mr Jia Qinglin, Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Mr Wang Taihua, the Minister of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television respectively.
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was voted one of China’s “Ten Best International Friends of China”, ranked ninth at 2,247,707 votes as the ‘Princess of Thailand who promoted the cultural exchange and friendly ties between China and her country’.
Norman Bethune, a Canadian physician tops the list with 4,694,484 votes; followed by John Rabe, a German who helped shelter 250,000 Chinese civilians during the Nanjing Massacre between 1937-1938 with 4,097,787 votes. Third on the list is Spaniard Juan Antonio Samaranch, the IOC Honorary Lifetime President who greatly support China’s bid for the 2008 Olympics with 3,736,992 votes.
The “Top Ten International Friends of China” cyber selection event, organized by three authoritative organizations ; the China Radio International, the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, targeting "men and women of the century," and with direct participation of the public, is the first such activity ever held by the People's Republic of China since its founding in 1949. It was a part of the activities to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. Altogether 56 million eligible votes had been collected in the voting which lasted from 31 August to 10 October 2009.
In the award ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, Mr Liu Yanguo, Deputy general director of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs delivered a speech on behalf of the hosts of the event. In his speech, Liu expressed Chinese people's appreciation to the international friends for their contributions to promoting friendship between China and other countries.
"Through this event, we want to tell the world that Chinese people will always remember these international friends for their support and contribution to the country's national liberation process and to its national construction during a time of peace. Their great achievements have been imprinted in Chinese history."
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn addressed the attendants on behalf of all the awardees. Speaking in Chinese, Her Royal Highness thanked the hosts and all Chinese people for their hospitality and highlighted the importance of international friendship.
"A real friend is more valuable than any treasure in the world. Friendship is the driving force for the development of peace. I firmly believe that if only people from different countries live harmoniously, and treat each other as friend, can we realize our hope of creating a more peaceful, graceful and civilized world."