Friendship dinner in Beijing
Ladies and gentlemen,
The King and I first visited China in 1985. What a great joy it is to be back again – for the fourth time!
We have been lucky enough to experience the wonderful food in Yunnan, the business metropolis of Shanghai, the stunning scenery of Guilin, the terracotta army in Xi’an, and the Olympic spirit of Beijing in 2008.
On Saturday, we visited the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang, on the Silk Road – one of the most important meeting places between East and West for many hundreds of years.
This truly is has truly been a cultural journey. And we are very happy to continue this journey together with you this evening.
We would like to take you on a cultural, culinary and imaginary journey. And we hope to return some of the warm hospitality we have received – in every province and in every city we have visited in China.
You may have already noticed the decorations in different shades of blue and green and with motifs that remind us of the ocean. Throughout the history of both our nations, we have shared a close relationship with the sea. For both our peoples, the oceans have inspired curiosity and courage.
They have given us valuable resources that have helped to drive our economies. Being out at sea can also help us to see things from a broader perspective.
And, not least, can bring us great peace of mind.
We hope you will see, hear, taste and perhaps even feel the ocean this evening.
For centuries, the oceans have brought people together. The oceans have enabled us to broaden our horizons. The arts also bring people and nations together. What better testimony to the importance of the arts than the remarkable building we are sitting in just now – designed by Chinese architects.
It is both dynamic and harmonious – creating a fine balance of yin and yang.
This evening, it is also a great pleasure to welcome you all to a musical variety show. We will hear music from the past, the present and the future, presented by artists from Norway and China.
One of my most moving encounters with Chinese music took place 21 years ago. A young Chinese opera singer came to Norway to compete in the international music competition that bears my name; the Queen Sonja International Music Competition. I still remember the impression his voice made on the jury – and on me!
He won the competition in 1997 and went on to have an outstanding career.
Ladies and gentlemen, this talented musician is with us here today.
I wish you all a very pleasant evening.
And it is a great joy to introduce my old friend, Liao Changyong.